Bridges in Japanese Gardens

Traditional Japanese gardens, like the Nitobe Garden at UBC, are very different than traditional Western Gardens. According to Polat and Kaklik, “the role of the visitors in Japanese garden is important. The paths in gardens should provide wide sceneries to the visitors. Because of this, creation of scenery in the gardens its the first aim of its design” (441).

The Nitobe Garden is the Chisen kaiyu style which means that it is a stroll garden featuring a path around a pond. Objects are one of the four elements in a traditional Japanese garden. Objects, such as a bridge, provide a scenery characteristic. Bridges can be made out of stone, mud, and wood. “Bridges are elements, which both provide the facility of passing the water and watching the landscape in the gardens” (444).

As you enter the Nitobe Garden you can immediately see the bridge that allows you to walk from the pagoda to the other side of the pond. Made from wood and covered by gravel it blends in with the path depending on the position of the visitor. In Japanese gardens “various shapes of bridges make the garden gain a picturesque character”. Nitobe’s bridge has a steep arc that makes it a statement, but also doesn’t disrupt the flow of the path or garden. Many bridges are designed in the shape of arcs in Japanese gardens according to Polat and Kaklik are to,  “form a complete circle by reflecting on the water” (444). 

Nitobe has a beautiful representation of example of the bridge convention in traditional Japanese gardens.



Works cited:

Polat, A. T., Güngör, S., & Kaklik, N. (2010). KYOTO JAPANESE GARDEN IN KONYA, TURKEY THE DESIGN PRINCIPLES OF JAPANESE GARDENS. Prostor, 18(2), 438-451.

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