Japanese Garden Bench

To the Japanese people, gardens have for centuries played an important role in the country's culture and development. In Japan, there are three main types of nihon teien, or gardens: Tsukiyama Gardens (hill gardens), Karesansui Gardens (dry or rock gardens) and Chaniwa Gardens (tea gardens). These green spaces are common all over Japan and can be found in such places as public parks, Buddhist temples and also many private residences. Also, it is something not just limited to Japan. Japanese gardens have popped up the world over, with breathtaking examples in even just the United States. Often, they are tucked into larger botanical gardens, so this is a good place to look. Check out the ones in your area for some inspiration to bring home. Odds are, your own backyard oasis will not harbor quite the elaborate setup, but still a few authentic touches will give your garden an authentic Asian feel and overall beautiful look.

To the adherents of traditional philosophy, gardens represent the whole of nature, just on a much smaller scale. They are tranquil and beautiful places created with an artistic sensibility in mind where one can spend hours relaxing and contemplating the finer things in life. Its roots can be traced back to a religious basis, back when gardens were first associated with Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto ideologies. Today, while the overt religious meaning is not so prevalent, there is still a spirituality and reverence one naturally feels when entering these peaceful spots. In addition to the religious aspect, Japanese garden making is considered as fine an art as the Asian practices of flower arranging (ikebana) and calligraphy. Besides that, gardens are just a nice break from the hectic pace of life. With so much time spent there, a garden bench is a welcome respite.

You might be surprised to learn that Japanese garden benches don't necessarily have one specific design. The traditional ones are made from stone, usually with room for one to two persons. Left unpainted, they are adorned with simply carved designs running from the base along up through the armrests. However, in reality you can make a Japanese garden bench from the same materials out of which you would build any bench. Concrete, wood, plastics, etc can be used for this purpose as well so long as the ambience is there to support it. The main point about these benches is not so much how they look as their purpose and surroundings. The basic purpose is contemplation, though in Western terms this might equate to something more like "Stop and smell the roses." When it comes to the surrounding environment, having a tranquil space filled with beautiful flowers and green foliage will naturally evoke this peaceful state. It might also be a nice touch to add indigenous Asian plants to complete the effect, such as Japanese Maple trees or Bonsais.

If you really want to do it up right, there are other items you can add in addition to the garden bench. Traditional Japanese gardens also usually come with some sort of fencing, often made out of bamboo; a water source, like ponds and fountains; as well as lanterns, bridges and pavilions. The nice thing is, you don't necessarily have to stick to one theme. Your backyard is your sanctuary, so decorate it as you want to. Whichever styles you choose, a garden bench of any sort is a nice fixture to be able to immerse yourself in the fauna and admire all of your hard work.

Tonya Kerniva is an experienced research and free lance writing professional. She writes actively about Garden Bench and Garden Benches.