Stone Gardens (sekitei)
Sekitei are beautiful dry landscape gardens made from gravel or white sand, rocks and touches of moss. This style of garden architecture was introduced along with Zen Buddhism in the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333). They are easily recognised by their carefully raked gravel or sand ripples imitating flowing water, rocks resembling mountains, and an occasional arrangement of stones symbolising dry waterfalls.
Stone gardens were usually a part of temple grounds supporting monks during meditation and spiritual enhancement. However, they are not accessible as these gardens are only meant to be enjoyed seated from a specific angle, leading your mind to naturally honour this beautiful piece of nature. In relation to changing times, these gardens combine both traditional and new elements.
One of the most beautiful sekitei is located within the grounds of Kyoto’s Ryoan-ji temple, but if that’s too far, you don’t need to worry. Tokyo owns a stone garden just as beautiful but in a more peaceful setting in Mitake valley. Located inside the Gyokudo Art Museum, the garden is surrounded by abundant nature, inviting you to sit and appreciate the aesthetics of nature just like the Japanese do; this is one of the best ways to experience teinei culture. If you listen carefully while marvelling at the immaculately raked ripples, you might be able to hear the flowing water of the nearby Tama River.
Gyokudo Art Museum. 1-75 Ome, Mitake, Tokyo. 0428 78 8335. gyokudo.jp.