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A Study of the Relationship Between Everyday Life and Gardens, Based on Water Systems in Kyoto City, Japan

Hidefumi IMAE1, 2* Article first published online: February 3, 2015 Full Article (PDF)

Abstract

Until now, traditional academic research on Japanese Gardens has not discussed the relationship between everyday life and scenic gardens. In this study, the conventional preconception and division in traditional academic research between ‘niwa’ (yards/courtyards) and ‘teien’ (“scenic gardens”), whereby the purpose of niwa is practical and that of teien is appreciation of open space, is thought to be incomplete. We focus on some ponds in niwa in Kyoto City whose sources are the man-made water system (canals and rivers). A detail analysis of the local topography and neighborhoods about water systems is analyzed here; as to how they channel water in from the surrounding water systems. As a result, the relationship of these systems to the gardens is described in terms of the activity and everyday life in a neighborhood. As a result, using water in a garden is a secondary use for man-made rivers and canals; a necessary part of creating a comfortable life. In other words, desirable conditions in a neighborhood lead to the neighbors taking consideration of each other. In the present day, using water in a garden pond is a secondary purpose in creating man-made rivers and canals, indicating a degree of maturity and reflecting the deep meaning of neighborliness as a form of social partnership between neighbors. This paper argues for - it is not a view of gardens that looks at the way the quality of everyday life (and relationships) amongst our neighbors that shapes the world - the institutions around us existing in harmony with each other and the natural world.

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