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10 Japanese-style Gardens


8
Tea Gardens
A path leads to a teahouse in a Japanese tea garden.
A path leads to a teahouse in a Japanese tea garden.
Mark Turner/Botanica/Getty Images

During the late 12th and early 13th century, the ruling class in Japan became enamored with Zen Buddhism and the ritual of the tea ceremony. The ceremony was a formal affair in which tea leaves were ground down and steeped in a bitter broth, which people then passed around in a common bowl. These ceremonies took place in minimalistic gardens that helped create a calm atmosphere for meditation.

Tea gardens are constructed with simple, rustic materials to maintain harmony with the atmosphere, and they center on the ceremonial teahouse. Made from natural materials, these structures blend into their surroundings and are accessed by a path that symbolizes the journey into a more peaceful state of mind. Guests enter teahouses through low doors, so built to humble them upon entering.

The houses are enclosed by an outer entrance garden where participants wait for the ceremony to begin and a sacred inner garden that you do not enter but only observe and contemplate from outside its walls. The outer garden contains several lanterns, a water basin for people to purify themselves by washing away sins and a bench for resting.