Kyoto/ The evolution of gardens/Developments during Momoyama Period

Momoyama period was the time when Toyotomi Hideyoshi came into power, and it was the time period known as the last gorgeous moment of Kyoto before Tokugawa Ieyasu moved the capital to Edo (Tokyo). The following writing focuses on several developments regarding to the gardens in Kyoto during Momoyama period.

As gardens required extra time and care to maintain their beauty, improvements in techniques certainly would be needed as well. During Momoyama period, the technique of trimming was further developed and thus was introduced to the gardens, though this technique had been implemented in the bushes of the dry waterfall in the garden of Daisen-in Temple. Here, Kobori Enshu, a famous artist and aristocrat, played an important role in introducing the technique of trimming. The garden of Raikyu-ji Temple in Takahashi City (in Okayama Prefecture), is considered to be Kobori Enshu’s work. This garden is regarded as the pioneer of the trimming technique – the bushes were trimmed in various shapes, and the combination of different shapes of bushes thus became the main feature of the garden. The photo below shows the Karikomi trimming, which the shape of the bush or the tress is intended to be trimmed off and sheared some leaves or branches away. The purpose of trimming technique is to create the harmony between the trees and bushes, and the arranged stones and architecture.


Raikyu-ji Temple © 2008, Marijke and Piet Patings


Momoyama period was also the time when the teahouse garden, roji, was developed. Compared to other gardens, teahouse garden’s is narrower, and it is located along the approach and around the teahouse. What actually brought in the design of teahouse garden was Hideyoshi’s love for the tea ceremony that had begun during Higashiyama period and developed to the state of perfection by Sen-no-Rikyu, who was considered to be the most influential person on tea ceremony. Therefore, teahouse garden was developed in order to symbolize the atmosphere where a quiet, narrow path leading to a temple on the mountain – it is the tranquility that teahouse garden is trying to bring out for.



Takakuwa, G. (1970) Invitation to Japanese Gardens.

Japan: Charles E.Tuttle Company, Inc.