Japanese gardens – Stop the cliché !

        The West, in successive waves, regularly felt a pronounced passion for the art of Japanese gardens. This is easily understood when one knows their main base, a willingness to live in harmony with nature, that is to say, to stay connected with the divine, the universe, life, … whatever the name given to it.

Our current “stressed” society is again experiencing this craze, desperately researching that it could bring it some peace and quiet, unconsciously knowing where is its salvation. Unfortunately, this research stays very superficial, focusing mainly on some techniques and ornaments that could get it closer.

When Japanese people come in France, they give a polite smile at the sight of our so-called “Japanese” gardens, but in their heart, they think that the Westerners have strictly understood nothing. As for the Japanese garden professionals, those I know well tell me that they often see things that make them excessively sad !!!

In the West, in Europe, and I am sorry to see it, especially in France, we are the specialists of “cliché” gardens !

For example, placing a torii at the entrance or inside his garden !!! Torii are exclusively reserved for Shinto shrines. It is a religious ornament. Imagine an Asian person creating a French garden and there “sticking” an enormous crucifix at the entrance. It is exactly the same situation, but the reverse.

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And then, there are also the red bridges … Ah, the red bridges !!! The red bridge (although there are still some that exist in Japan in a few rare gardens) is only the trace of the Chinese influence that marked Japan at a certain period of its history, shoin style, very tinny. This is absolutely not characteristic of Japan ! The Japanese taste is simple, natural, elegant, refinement in sobriety and a certain form of rusticity …

There is also a surge of so-called “Japanese gardens” practically devoid of shade, or even in totality, exposed all day to the fiery rays of the sun, thus in excess of yang energy. Yes, it’s true, it’s tiring to pick up the dead leaves in the fall ! An authentic Japanese garden consists of a third of a sunny area for two thirds of shaded area, bringing freshness and darkness, so appeasement and comfort, particularly appreciated by the Japanese people. To understand it, you just have to read a monument of Japanese literature, the famous “In Praise of Shadows”

jardins japonais stop clichés

And then there’s the clouds pruning ! Yes, it is just as tiring to place and replace rope guys for several years, in order to obtain a tree, an authentic niwaki, which truly resembles what it becomes with time in nature. This requires patience … difficult in our society accustomed to getting everything, and right away. Most prefer the ease in creating the approximate, approaching, and affirm that it is Japanese garden !

So … who is able to name me a real and authentic Japanese garden, here in the West … ?

The torii … female sex symbol

        You may already know that shintō sanctuaries are places dedicated to one or more deities, the kami. In Japanese, one calls them jinja or jingū, or . They are easily distinguishable from Buddhist temples, as there are often many objects painted in red vermilion and the entrance is adorned with a torii, a kind of portico that tells you that once you cross it, you enter a sacred land.

Japanese gardens - Stop the cliché ! - Frederique Dumas www.japanese-garden-institute.com www.frederique-dumas.com

And it is not the first time I explain to you that a torii hasn’t its place in a Japanese garden. I let you consult one of my other articles on this subject…

But what I learned recently (yes, we all learn things every day), is that symbolically, this torii represents the lower half of a woman’s body, standing on her two legs, and the upper part representing her sexual organs …! Wow, wow, wow … I see from here the face of some good-big “sexists” that one can meet in the field of the “landscape”. But may be the opportunity to finishing once time for all with the torii in the so-called western “Japanese gardens” !!!

Once the torii has been crossed, the path leading to the sanctuary is called sandō, the homonym of the same word which literally means “the path of childbirth”. The ideogram 宮 which be reading and that one finds in the word jingū 神宮 is the same kanji used in the word shikyū 子宮 which signifies “uterus”.

Japanese gardens - Stop the cliché ! - Frederique Dumas www.japanese-garden-institute.com www.frederique-dumas.com

So when you go into a sanctuary, you enter a pure and sacred place, where life is conceived, and once purified, when you come out, it is like a birth and the beginning of a new life. Somehow a rebirth…

A great thank you to CCFJT of Toulouse for all these interesting details.

Teaching … such a beautiful trade !

        I want to react today about the profession of teacher, such a beautiful trade …

Each trade requires specific gifts and talents. And that of a teacher requires certain indispensable qualities such as patience, aptitude for self-questioning, management of a group, but also benevolence, respect, and above all humility or acceptance that the learner can excel !
However, it also requires an indispensable quality which is the ability to discern instantly what is in imbalance, which requires a correction.

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Being patient, for example, means being able to repeat, and to repeat, even reformulate, to facilitate and enable the student’s understanding. Being benevolent means being understanding and indulgent, but it does not mean being a kind of “yes man”. I have participated in many internships in my life until today, and I would have never agreed to pay several hundred of € for a few days to a trainer who would not have had the courage to show me my mistakes, to be acceptable, by simple “cronyism”, for fear of hurting my susceptibility or having to confront.

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Because a trainer is there to move his students forward, and as error is an integral part of the learning process, he is obliged at a certain moment, to express himself on this ground. Keeping silent, or telling someone who comes to learn that he is doing things right when it is not the case, is to mock him, it is to deceive him !

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Nowadays, unfortunately, I too often see people who turn into a “trainer”, in ALL professional circles, because they think that their experience in a trade or a practice is sufficient, or because they see a way to round off their month ends, because they are trying to copy another person, because they have experienced a setback in their professional life … and so on. It is not a simple “training number” issued by an administration serving only to list, which makes the quality of a teacher !

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Our students deserve the best, and certainly a teacher who has the courage to show them where they have done wrong and how to do better next time to progress, with the aim, if they wish, to achieve excellence.

SPIRITUAL JAPAN NIWAKI TOUR 2017 – Few places left !

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        Study and initiatory journey in Japan, the SPIRITUAL JAPAN NIWAKI TOUR© 2017 will take place from next October 30th to November 11th. And this year, it is bilingual (French/English). But do not worry about it, if you are not. I can assure you about it. I have done experience many times during courses and this is always very friendly, both of them doing their best to communicate. It’s pretty fun! We are already enough to leave, but there are still a few places left. If the heart tells you, enjoy it !

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I will show you all the most beautiful gardens of Kyoto and its surroundings (which are not necessarily the best known), the cradle of garden art for the Japanese people, fine Japanese cuisine, I prepared you many mini-lectures on your favorite topics – the myth of zen garden, tamamono and karikomi, tsuboniwa plants, tea garden, kutsu nugi ichi, the waterfall and its stream … and many more !

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Do not wait any more … why postpone again? You can make the choice to live, as if every day was the last day of your life !

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If you want to know the opinions of the last participants (sorry, only in French), rendez-vous on this page. You have the comments below. Hope to meet you soon !

Contest 2017 – Frederique DUMAS – Niwaki & Co

        I inform you that I organize a Contest, between March 1st and June 30th, 2017. This last day will be the lucky draw of the winner of the superb set below : 270 mm pruning shears, handmade, accompanied by its leather cover, with a metal clip, with a value of 182 €. But all the participants, not only the lucky one, will be able to win gifts …

So, on your marks … ready …

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Terms and conditions of this contest will be provided you on simple request.

I wish you good luck !

New video – “Secret roji”

         A new video – a secret roji in the region of Kamakura – is now on the e-learning Platform of JAPANESE GARDEN INSTITUTE !

To watch it, rendez-vous at this adress :
http://www.japanese-garden-institute.com/elearning/

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Looking forward to having you among the community of the “Sublime SUKIYA” Academy (prev. NIWAKI Inspiration ZEN) … !

New video – “Natsume gata” basin

         A new video – all you need to know on the Natsume-gata basin – is now on the e-learning Platform of JAPANESE GARDEN INSTITUTE !

To watch it, rendez-vous at this adress :
http://www.japanese-garden-institute.com/elearning/

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Looking forward to having you among the community of the “Sublime SUKIYA” Academy (prev. NIWAKI Inspiration ZEN) … !

My philosophy of Japanese gardens design

        Most people consider the garden as a place to live and a great tool to forge social ties, encouraging friendliness and hospitality. This activity maintains their health, contributes to their well-being, it is a source of emotions appealing to all their senses.

The same is true for most of the Japanese garden lovers. But this consideration, while praiseworthy, generates the creation of spaces that are often the result of obsession with form rather than the very essence of this type of garden. That is, it should not begin with the choice of certain physical objects or materials, but above all with a total commitment to live in harmony with nature at all possible levels.

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Because the Japanese garden is meant to be the purest reflection of nature … a spiritual sanctuary (and not religious, although its evolution at one time was strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism), a work of art conducive to contemplation. Whatever its size, the Japanese garden gives to read and interpret the whole universe. It is a representation of nature, which since the dawn of time has had a sacred character. In all its forms, even the purest and most sober, by the use of simple materials such as vegetable, stone and water and the expression of universal harmony, it illuminates the life of those who live in it.

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These compositions of different elements are the reflection of the vital impetus, of the creative spontaneity of the person who is at the origin of it, of his spirit. The balance, harmony, feeling of stability and power inspired by this ensemble depend on the choice of stones and the location where they are set, the choice and arrangement of plants, the path traveled by water … and of course these notions depend exclusively of the talent and the predispositions of the gardener, revealed by the practice.

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But this talent will be able to be fully expressed, this space will be able to be totally harmonious and beneficial, only under certain conditions. The creator and owner of the future garden must constantly bear in mind that in the communicating universe in which we live, every improvement made in our own lives enhances the world as a whole. For every thought, belief, action, decision or emotion modifies the level and balance of the energetic fields of the universe. The ways of thinking of others and the way they irradiate their energy can have a very negative impact, as very positive on us. There was a time, now unfortunately forgotten, where the ishidate-so – title given to Zen priests who, as part of their ascetic practice, expressed themselves through the art of gardening with great importance given to the placement of rocks, the art of stone-setting – was fond of a famous Zen proverb: “When the venomous snake drinks water, it becomes a poison. When the cow drinks the same water, it becomes milk “. This suggests that the garden becomes extremely beneficial or totally the reverse according to the inner dispositions of the person who creates it.

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We often hear about Japanese garden art, but the word “way” seems to me to be much more appropriate than the word “art” because it expresses one of the fundamental criteria of the different disciplines that make up the “dō” – the accomplishment of the human being through a long training of the body and the mind, a long physical and spiritual “progress”, a form of inner purification. In the Japanese mentality, much more than the goal or the result which is almost never reached, it is the path followed to try to achieve it that remains the most important. It is always about accomplishment and not about the mere mastery of a particular technique. To be complete in its incompleteness.

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The act of creating a garden is for me a way to find simplicity, in order to reach at best the essential. This garden becomes a mirror of my mind, a space where my spirit remains. Through this form of art, this Way, this search for truth, I seek to express my spiritual self, my essence, my highest self.

You have a project between 2 and 20m ², authentic traditional Japanese garden, contemporary or even with a therapeutic aim … Contact me and talk about it.

New video – spring tea

         A new video – a tsukubai created with students of the Academy – is now on the e-learning Platform of JAPANESE GARDEN INSTITUTE !

To watch it, rendez-vous at this adress :
http://www.japanese-garden-institute.com/elearning/

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Looking forward to having you among the community of the “Sublime SUKIYA” Academy (prev. NIWAKI Inspiration ZEN) … !

Training center in North America – Niwaki and Japanese gardens

         For your information and following more and more requests, I organize a training center in North America, in Canada. It will be located more precisely at Mont St Gregoire, on the outskirts of Montreal, Quebec, in a beautiful place, at Mr Hugo BERGERON, the person who hosts us.

This first training session will offer you a course of Japanese pruning basics and an advanced course of pines pruning and creation of sinuous trunks, respectively from 3 to 5th, and 6 & 7th September, 2017.

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In order for these courses to be planed and calculated with participation in my travel expenses that is affordable for all, it is necessary that there be at least 8 participations in total (some people can follow two courses in succession if they desire).

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All details of organization are communicated to you on simple request. If you desire to have more information about the courses, you can already see on this page of my website, that describing these which take place in France, on the site of “Sublime SUKIYA” Academy. About prices, you will find them here. You can also contact me by e-mail or by phone. However, I need to know quickly if you want to participate, so the deadline registration is the next February 28 th.

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Looking forward to meeting you soon !