|The passage of the 'stream' can easily be deduced|
Daisen-in, a sub-temple of the Daitoku-ji temple compound in Kyoto, contains one of the finest gardens in Japan. It is important historically and artistically; in it one can read almost the entire canon of achievement in the Japanese garden tradition. All the symbolic effects influenced by the aesthetics of painting, and the art of creating illusory representations of space are brought together in one small area. The temple of Daisen-in was founded in the Muromachi period as a temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, 1509, by Kogaten Sotan (1464-1540), the abbot of Daitoku-ji and a figure of great standing. He was widely revered for his determined personality, and his admirers included the Shogun Yoshimasa, as well as important persons in the Imperial court. Sotan needed his contacts to achieve his aim of building Daisen-in, as the country was wrecked by civil wars that did not leave Kyoto free from lawless destruction. Daitoku-ji itself had been completely razed in 1468 as a result of these wars.
|Principal stone setting representing mountain|
|Boat stone, mirrored by the arrangement to the rear|
The 'stream' emerges into the southern garden which is flat and entirely covered with white raked sand broken only by two conical mounds. This section of the garden is referred to as the 'Universal Sea', an image that is maintained by the surrounding double-banked hedge, which may be read as a symbolic representation of waves. The scroll-like effect of the garden is broken only by the roofed walkway, with its typically Zen-inspired bell-shaped opening, which dates from a radical restoration of the garden in 1961, based on plans from the later Edo period (18th century); whether this walkway existed in the original scheme we cannot know for sure, as to a certain extent it does interrupt the visual flow.
Nearly 100 stones are set in the garden, in compositions which clearly seem to derive from Chinese landscape paintings. The soaring mountain peaks and plunging valleys so beloved of the painters are particularly well represented in the garden. The famous panels in the rooms facing onto the garden feature landscape paintings by Soami. The composition includes crane and tortoise islands, reinforcing the underlying symbolic content with its allusion to the overall garden as paradise motif.
|South garden, the double layered hedge represents waves|