Inspired by Japanese Style

One of the few books that has escaped numerous moves and decluttering of our home is a 35 years old book called Japanese Style. It has influenced our aesthetics and inspired our home style, from the purchase of our first family size futon when we were a really broke young family to the attempt to design a Japanese inspired garden when we were a little less broke or at least the bank was willing to give us a home equity loan.

While we find things worth bickering about often, we are united in our love for most things Japanese. We can and do spend hours admiring the perfect patterns of raked gravel in Japanese dry gardens or the exquisite shapes and colors of Japanese pottery or lacquerware.

The Japanese have the unsurpassed sense of refinement, attention to detail, and the mastery of craft that extends from the gold leaf splattered imperial finery of an ink box to a humble toothpick or just a simple bamboo fence. A wooden door becomes an intriguing piece of art or a canvas for the rain to draw a masterpiece on. Nature is also coaxed to perfection in Japanese gardens. Initial garden inspiration came from China, but as in many other things the Japanese took an idea and developed and molded and mastered and perfected it to unreachable heights. It takes a great knowledge of Feng shui and care and skill to set up a Japanese garden and then it takes hard work, patience and attention to details to keep it growing well. Japanese gardeners are in my book the unsung heroes.

There are big castle park gardens with large bodies of water that are wonderful for strolling, especially in the evenings under romantic lighting. Where you have water, you must have bridges. They come in different shapes and colors, but my favorite is a cheerful red. Under the bridges giant black, golden, and orange koi fish are swimming happily.Sometimes the water is not water at all, but is represented by white pebbles that flow like a river. And the fish are a ceramic rendition. How fun! The reflection of the trees in the water is replaced by the black shadows on white gravel river.We first encountered this concept at the spectacular Adachi Museum of Art Garden, considered by many the best garden in all of Japan. It certainly is the best and the cleverest set up for six gardens in total, because they blend in perfectly with the surrounding hills and while you can’t walk through them at all, you can watch large landscape tableaux through the contemporary museum windows, changing through the seasons. A very different experience of a garden, indeed! We had a few quiet moments at Yuushien Garden coffee shop that employs a similar wall window garden view idea. For a short time in spring time you can watch thousands upon thousands of yellow and pink peony flowers floating on the water. Peony symbolizes good fortune, bravery, and honor.No wonder it was depicted in a very similar pattern on a samurai’s lacquer box.

Water and modern architecture were also combined well in the D.T. Suzuki Museum, celebrating the life of the Japanese philosopher who introduced Zen Buddhism to the Western world. Fittingly it was very minimalist, inviting the visitors to quiet reflection or shall I call it Zen meditation?For us though, it was the smaller, more intimate garden settings, that we enjoyed most. We stumbled upon the Namura Residence garden in the old samurai district of Kanzawa, not knowing that it was no. 3 on the list of the best. It is a tiny garden, but fits in all essential Japenese garden elements:

Rocks and stepping stones and koi, and a cube shaped water feature beautifully reflecting the surrounding trees.Water features are probably my favorite element of Japanese gardens.Mirek really likes stone lanterns in all their shapes and forms. Especially if accompanied by beautiful women, or shapely trees,or vibrant leaves. Oh, the trees! What can be more Japanese than the flaming Japanese maples? Only flowering cherries, if you please! Yoo-hoo, what about bamboo?Of course. Green, black, variegated? Tall, for sure! What I like about Japanese garden approach is that even if you don’t have a castle or a house, you can still plan a tiny Japanese garden in a corner by your front door or at least a mini one on a tray. If all else fails, you can always hang a garden painting on your wall.

14 thoughts on “Inspired by Japanese Style

  1. Olmers, what wonderful pictures and comments on it. You are taking us with you through your experience! I love it
    Thank you


  2. I also LOVE Japanese gardens and find like you, their plantings, styling and attention to detail inspiring……..and calming. If I spot a sign for a Jaoanese Garden when I’m travelling, anywhete in the world, I will try go visit the garden. I enjoyed your photos immensely.


  3. You have captured the essence of Japan with the serene simplicity. Great photos.. I felt transported with you on your journey seeing that you planned it from my dining room table in Samui. Arrigato


  4. I love all things Japanese and these photos are proof of the beauty you find everywhere in Japan. Many thanks for this colorful trip through beautiful gardens.


  5. Hey friends We are follow after yout trip and very happy to be with you…… Now we are sitting at Pragu airport back home after one week in Chek republik most of the time at the south…… See you and take care… Your friends in israel ita and avraham

    בתאריך יום ג׳, 21 במאי 2019, 21:31, מאת Crazy Parents Travel ‏:

    > ksenija+mirek olmer posted: ” One of the few books that has escaped > numerous moves and decluttering of our home is a 35 years old book called > Japanese Style. It has influenced our aesthetics and inspired our home > style, from the purchase of our first family size futon when we were a ” >


  6. These are fantastic! Thanks for sharing; we are doing a tour of the Japanese Archipelago next year so you’ve given us food for thought! Hugs! Bobbie



  7. WOW! What an exquisite foto travelogue of your Japanese highlights!!! BRAVO! also, loved your insightful comments. They all brought back such wonderful memories of our own Japanese adventures so many years ago…45 2 B exact! YIKES! where did all those years go?
    Thanks for sharing so much so beautifully🙏😘


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