Book by Mark Peter Keane

HerbAugust 17, 2005

I have complained before of feeling uneasy with two changes that were made to the Nitobe Memorial Garden when it was last renovated, but a third one that I don't think I've mentioned was the big gap that had been made in the hedge separating the Tea Garden from the rest of the garden, so that people can now walk into the tea garden at one end and out at the other. It just felt wrong, but I didn't know how to explain it.

Now, after reading this from Mark Peter Keane I think he does explain it -

"To evoke the sense of a long journey in the small space between garden entry and teahouse, these (i.e. teahouse)* gardens employ a series of thresholds, each one accentuating the feeling of passage, of entering progressively deeper into a new world. The thresholds begin with a roofed outer gate, sotomon, which separates the tea garden from the outside world. After entering, the last guest turns to the gate and closes the wooden doors, shutting them with a wooden cross-bolt. The dull smite of wood on wood signals the arrival of guests to the host, who waits unseen inside. To those who have just entered, it has a deeper meaning: they are no longer part of the world they just left."

*I added the words in brackets

Click here for the rest of his insight

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In the construction of a Japanese garden in the US that was to exempilfy JG garden elements, the final installation was modified to include an additional opening, bamboo wall section, walk surface, and turn around for the handicap access.

It was a combination of hill and pond, stroll, and tea entry garden. Although it was a major impact on the garden, the designer and gardeners did not hesitate. Do you think there was a similar reason for the new gap?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 9:52PM
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It's some years since I was in the Nitobe Garden, but so far as I remember there was nothing in the way the Tea Garden used to be that would make it especially difficult for the handicapped, so I'd be guessing at what the answer is. It could be anything. Knowing how Philistine city governments can be, it wouldn't surprise me if the City of Vancouver had passed a bylaw about fire exits from public buildings and officialdom insisted that these included the Tea House on the grounds that it might catch fire.

It sets my imagination going - suppose they directed that the Tea House must be re-built to include wheelchair ramps? Or that tall lampstandards with sodium lights must be installed throughout the garden so that people can see their way round there at night?

Edzard can correct me if I'm mis-using the word, but my feeling is that Professor Mori's cloistered Tea Garden now feels like a thoroughfare & has lost its fuzei.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 10:39PM
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