The Japanese garden defies quick and easy comprehension. More than a quaint arrangement of stones and shrubbery, the Japanese garden delights the senses and challenges the soul - a majestic enigma.
We gaze at the Japanese garden with the nagging sensation that we could be seeing more, understanding more. This is why tourists visiting a Japanese temple garden often come away with only half-sight - without penetrating the subtleties of the landscape, esteeming only the superficial, mistaking the obvious for sublime.
The Japanese garden is really a kind of anthology of symbolic images and patterns. There is no one definitive Japanese garden. Instead, over the course of a 1,500 year history, various gardens were created by people inspired by different turns of events - a new religion, philosophy or shift in social structure. The Japanese garden involves a sensitivity to aesthetic, rhythm and balance. There is a carefully designed structure in the choice and placement of rocks and trees. There is something more essential to the gardens than the materials they are made of - that essence of the garden lies in the way it is designed, not in what it is designed of.