Japan, a country with a connection between human and nature
When you walk the Japanese Garden, you will enter a different world. A world of peace, beauty, and the good world. In European gardens, flowers take up to 70% of the space. Because of this, these gardens express themselves as colorful and exciting. In Japan, they use up to 70% greenery, creating tranquility, contemplation, and meditation. Japanese gardens reflect a form of art. The components of the garden refer to both religious and philosophical trends. In this way, they reflect the spiritual climate in which the garden was located.
The country of Japan is shaped like a narrow crescent moon and consists of hundreds of islands. Nature on these islands includes steep mountains, volcanoes (including the famous volcano Fuji), short rivers, forested slopes, beautiful lakes, and small fertile plains.
We all know the capital of Japan, which is Tokyo. This city was not always seen as the capital of this wonderful country. Until just over a century ago, Kyoto was still the capital of Japan. Today, many travelers will still label Kyoto as the most beautiful city in Japan. Indeed, this city is known for its magnificent and numerous temples, monasteries, and well-manicured gardens, such as the Golden and Silver Temple and the Zen Buddhist Garden ‘Karesansui’. The landscape gardens surrounding the temples also look fascinating.
In Japanese culture, tea houses play an important role. This is because this is where the Japanese hold traditional tea ceremonies. When you want to visit such a tea house, you often must walk to the center of a large or small tea garden. The walk causes the mood to change because of the surrounding nature, putting you in a different world. To enter the Japanese tea house, you often must enter the tea house bent down and usually on your knees. This way promotes a sense of humility.
The three Japanese tea houses in Mondo Verde have taken on the characteristics of the original Japanese architectural style. The walls of the tea houses have a light color, and the structures were constructed from wood, bamboo, clay, and paper.
Zen comes from the Sanskrit ‘dhyan’ and means meditation. Zen meditation is based on faith: the only path to enlightenment, the ji-riki, the power over yourself. Therefore, visitors see the Zen Garden within its ochre-colored walls as a paradise for yoga practitioners. In the Zen Garden, water has only a symbolic meaning. Raked gravel or sand represent the sea. After all, no movement should disturb the garden visitor’s meditation. Hence also rocks instead of swaying plants.
Japan, a variety of flora
Laceleaf Japanese Maple
The Laceleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum purpurea) is known as a growing shrub or small tree native to Japan and Korea. The Laceleaf Japanese Maple has great ornamental value. Especially the red colors of the maple leaves make this tree special. These beautiful fall colors are limited to only a few species. Because the Laceleaf Japanese Maple grows quickly, even after pruning, people also use this tree species as a hedge. Only during the winter period do the leaves fall off, giving the tree a winter bare appearance.
The fruit, also called ‘helicopter’, has a large wing. Attached to a stalk are two fruits. Because of this, the wings are opposite each other so the wind is going to give a good spread.
The wood of the Laceleaf Japanese Maple is also used by Japanese when building traditional Japanese houses and buildings.
The well-known Japanese term ‘Bonsai’ literally means “planted in container. This respected and sophisticated Asian art form has been finding its way to regions outside Asia for several decades.
The small, kept trees have no genetic defects. Any plant with a wooden trunk and branches, you could grow as a Bonsai. By removing buds from the tree, pruning branches, and using wire to create certain positions in the tree, you form a certain shape in the tree. Thus, a plant kept small creates the illusion of looking like a very large and old specimen.
By growing in a smaller pot, you keep the bonsai tree to a houseplant size. In natural conditions, the bonsai grows to be tens of feet tall.
Mondo Verde also has some bonsai trees, including these three special specimens:
Japanese cherry (Prunus serrulata) belongs to the genus Prunus within the Rose family (Rosaceae). This shrub is a native plant species in the mountains of western China, in Korea, in Japan, on the islands of Izu Oshima and Honshu, and in the northwest part of the island of Hokkaido.
Japanese cherry is known as a deciduous tree with a short single trunk. The dense crown reaches a height of 7.9 to 11.9 meters. The smooth bark turns chestnut brown and has horizontal lenticels (also called respiratory pores). The leaves have a length of 5 to 13 centimeters, with a width of 2.5 to 6.5 centimeters. The ovate-lacetate leaves contain a serrate or double-serrate margin and a short petiole. In late fall, the green leaves change to yellow, red or crimson. As a result, the Japanese cherry decorates the World Garden Japan in every season.
The Japanese cherry will flower in April and May, but this depends on the weather. The flowers are white to pink. On a naturalized Japanese cherry, 5 petals per flower occur. The flowers emerge in clusters of 2 to 5 on the short shoots. This occurs at the same time as the new leaves are produced.
Like other Prunus species, Japanese cherry has cultural significance in Japan. In Japan, the name ‘Sakura‘ is used to refer specifically to the flowering period of the Cherry Blossom. In fact, ‘Sakura’ has an important symbolic meaning in Japanese culture. It symbolizes impermanent beauty. Moreover, the ‘Sakura’ is also closely associated with samurai and Bushido culture. In Japanese culture, life is considered beautiful and short, the same as the beautiful cherry blossom that appears and disappears. Because of this, the ‘Sakura’ also symbolizes happiness, love, spring, new beginnings and human mortality. Because the ‘Sakura’ only blooms for a short time, it should remind us how short and precious human life is.
The tradition ‘Hanami‘ has a prominent place in Japanese culture. ‘Hanami’ means viewing the blossom. This tradition is closely associated with the ‘Sakura’. During this period, lovers, friends, family or colleagues go to watch the ‘Sakura’ and have a picnic at the Cherry Blossom. This ancient tradition is still alive within Japanese culture. Nowadays, festivals and celebrations are also organized during the ‘Sakura’ in Japan to keep this tradition alive.