Daisen-in, a sub-temple of the Daitoku-ji temple compound, 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. The garden of Daisen-in was laid out between 1509 and 1513.
|From the roofed corridor with a bell-shaped window the viewer looks down to the 'Boat stone', as if standing in the prow of a ship The 'Boat stone' is just emerging in the bottom right corner of the photo.|
|The Boat stone resembles a Chinese junk, and is mirrored by the arrangement beyond it.|
|The tall stone on the left is Mt. Shumisen|
It is always difficult to be sure how important the symbolic content, as to garden design, although it is clear that the Daisen-in garden can be read as symbolic in its entirety. Clearly symbolism was of concern to garden designers in their use of motif. However the greatest artistic triumph of the garden lies in its unequivocal relationship with Chinese landscape painting, and as such the garden can be recognised as a masterpiece. Its present popularity is well deserved even if distracting to the visitor attempting to view the garden in peace and quiet.
|South garden representing the sea. The double hedge to the rear represents waves on the sea.|
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