Japanese Garden Journal
Japanese Tea Gardens
The tea garden is a style of Japanese garden associated with the tea ceremony, certain types of restaurants, and occasionally Japanese houses. The Japanese tea garden traditionally functions as an approach up to and around the Japanese tea house. Guests enter the garden and slowly proceed along garden stepping stones to a Japanese garden bench known as a machiai. There they wait until they are greeted by the host. Japanese teahouses are meant to be places of relaxation, friendship, and aesthetic sensitivity. The garden around the teahouse helps create the ideal mood.
Once summoned, guests enter the teahouse and enjoy the Japanese tea ceremony that is orchestrated by their host. They drink Japanese tea, admire the host's artwork and tea accessories, and reflect upon seasonal beauty. When the event is concluded they leave the tearoom and again proceed along the stepping stones to return to the world of daily events.
Nearly every Japanese person has had exposure to the tea ceremony, and millions - most of them women - participate in the tea ceremony on a regular basis. Few can afford an authentic detached teahouse, so in reality many tea ceremony events are held in the ordinary tatami mat rooms of traditional Japanese houses. Some tea groups meet in restaurants while others rent "public" teahouses in parks where they enjoy their hobby. With such diversity of sites, tea garden landscaping often appears, not just around formal teahouses, but also around homes and restaurants.
JOJG publishes at least one article per year about the Japanese tea garden and its traditional elements. Posted below are a few tea garden articles for review:
WHAT IS A TEA GARDEN? This article details the layout and function of a Japanese tea garden. Included are discussions about plant names and path building techniques.
TEA GARDEN PROCESSION This article describes the various elements in a traditional Japanese tea garden. The article is titled "Japanese Tea Garden Procession" because it explains each element in step-by-step fashion as the visitor proceeds through the garden.
CLEANING MY TEA GARDEN This thoughtful article by tea enthusiast Kathy Fink describes the act of sweeping and cleaning and being reflective.
HERE AND NOW This article by Megumi Unno details her intimate experience with tea and tea gardens. One interesting aspect of chanoyu is its emphasis on appreciating the present moment.
STEPPING STONE PATHS This article is about tea garden stepping stones. It offers 10 hints for better stepping stone paths. The very first sentence states what is perhaps the article's most important point: "Garden stepping stones should be easy to walk on."
JAPAN TEA CEREMONY This brief article presents the basic concepts of the traditional tea ceremony as it is practiced in Japan.