In the land of the rising sun, water is the undisputed queen of gardens. Whether in the form of a pond, a fountain or flowing in a small river, water is an essential element of cohesion and union between natural elements. Its gentle flow contrasts with the static nature of the rocks, symbolizing the continuous evolution of nature and creating a sense of peace and balance, an oasis of calm and reconnection.
In these gardens the watchword is harmony: in the environment and with the environment. The sinuous movement of water has the ability and purpose to reconnect with nature in a spiritual sense, creating a sort of channel and encouraging meditation not only through sight but also thanks to sound, an ally in reflection and in the search for inner peace.
Contrary to Western ones, Japanese gardens are “nature-centred”: they are not made exclusively for man, they are made for life, in whatever form it manifests itself. The presence of water, in fact, is essential not only for the botanical species but also for animals such as fish, masters of the ponds, and birds that perch and rest on stones and plants, making the garden truly alive.
The water not water of the Karesansui
The presence of water in Japanese gardens is paradoxically ambivalent, as effective as its absence. This is why the Karesansui were born: the “dry” gardens.
Water is not physically present, but is represented metaphorically, sometimes clearly, with stones, gravel or sand modelled to simulate waves, or by merging large rocks as if hosting a waterfall, other times in a totally abstract and cryptic way, leaving the observer the pleasure of interpreting.
To approach these gardens, one must open oneself to calm, peace and imagination, seeking a connection between mind, body and nature. In these places minimalism is embraced and space is left for the thought that is able to make rivers flow where everything is still.