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Published August 26th 2012
Japanese aesthetic heritage has a place in London
There are no authentic sushi platters or mystical Geishas dancing around, but a piece of Japan remains hidden in the woodland of Holland Park. Quiet, bordered and surreal, the Kyoto Garden surprises the visitors' eyes as a recondite, secret place lost in the middle of the forest. Resembling more a sanctuary than a recreational outdoor site, the cult to nature, the endearing animals and the design of the park paint an incredibly peaceful canvas that invites the visitor to reflect.
The origin of Japanese style gardens is based on respect and admiration for natural forms, such as trees and rocks. The place is named after Kyoto, former Japanese capital for over a millennium, given its natural beauty and abundance of famous Japanese gardens. This particular Kyoto Garden is in the "tour garden" style, one of the traditional garden styles of Japan. The trees are trimmed delicately to highlight their natural shapes and bring out the original lines of their trunks and branches.
Water is an essential element to this park, with a rocky three step waterfall that flows into a precious, serene pond. A stone bridge in front of the waterfall allows the visitors to sit by the pond and admire the multi-coloured fish that nonchalantly swim across the water. The waterfall symbolises steep mountains and deep gorges and the pond represents a vast ocean view. Therefore, as a composition of a whole, the garden depicts the grandeur of natural landscape.
The pond is surrounded by paths with toro (stone lanterns), tsukabai (a stone washbasin) and shishiodoshi (a bamboo alarm for animals)
The beauty of the garden evokes a cosmos where time does not exist. Located in the heart of the city, the site is an escape to hectic London and to one's own mind. Being in The Kyoto Garden felt like being off in some foreign land, far away from the craziness, crowdedness, noise and traffic of London.
The pond is surrounded by paths where toro (stone lanterns), tsukabai (a stone washbasin) and shishiodoshi (a bamboo alarm for animals) are located at suitable places to delight visitors. Every feature is carefully arranged so that visitors may enjoy the seasonally fluctuating atmosphere and landscape of the garden. In their communion with nature, some Londoners sit on the bench to read a book by the pond and the sound of the falling water, while others ľone we spotted- came with his headphones, iPhone, and put a Starbucks' cup by his side as he sat on the grass with his tailored suit, crossed his legs, closed his legs and started meditating; the contrast of technology and commercial coffee with the traditional design of the place and the ancient practice of meditation was palpable. A true Londoner, indeed! There were others that fed the squirrels and fish, while a few walked the paths admiring the landscape.
The waterfall symbolises steep mountains and deep gorges
The Kyoto Garden was created as part of The Japan Festival 1991 to celebrate the centenary of the Japan Society in Britain. The Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, along with the help of several Gardening Companies in Kyoto, led the construction and, thereafter, presented it to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as a gift to honour the long lasting friendship between Great Britain and Japan. At the present, the Kyoto Garden is sponsored by Associated Newspapers Ltd.