2 weeks ago
Japan is a rather secluded country, which relatively recently allowed the visitors in. It was closed since 1639, less than 100 years after the first arrival of Europeans at the country (can’t blame them tho, but that’s another story). Until the middle of XIX century, it was left on its own, building up its unique style of life and the perception of the world.
Two things are of great importance when we are talking about Japanese culture: the weather conditions and Shinto. Weather conditions, with tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, brought the feeling of ever-changing world and time that destroys everything (無常 – mujo, impermanence, the ever-changing nature of things) as well as the striving to seek something eternal and permanent in it (不易流行 - fueki-ryuko, permanent in the ever-changing). Shinto is the ethnic religion of Japan, in which a multitude of spirits inhabiting the world are worshipped. They could be called kami, when approached with respect. They could be called mononoke, when approached with fear. One of the most important Shinto notions is the purification (the rites are called Harae), as both spirit and body should be pure. From Shinto, life in the world of spirits, emerges the ability to see hidden and mysterious beauty and notions (幽玄 – yugen, hidden beauty) and also notice and appreciate the beauty of the ever-changing things (物の哀れ - Mono – no-aware).
The gardens, such as this one, were made to protect the Japanese houses from the outside dangers. In them, the entire universe was represented, with water and stones standing for yin and yang – the concept of dualism, derived from ancient Chinese philosophy, becoming part of Japanese perception of the world. ♦️If you think I’ve made a mistake somewhere, let me know.