What do Bonsai, Katsura Rikyu & Ginkaku-ji temple in Kyoto all have in common?
The answer is that they are all interwoven through Japanese history with regards to aesthetics and design.
Katsura Rikyu is, of course, the famous detached villa on the western side of Kyoto that features what some regard as the highest level of Japanese aesthetics and design in both its architecture and gardens. Elements of wabi sabi, yugen, and aware (pronounced ah-wah-ray) can be observed throughout the grounds. The various buildings also feature numerous tokonoma alcoves with unique features found only at Katsura Rikyu.
Ginkaku-ji, or the Silver Pavilion, on the eastern side of Kyoto is home to the Togu-do, a building which houses the first tokonoma alcove in Japan. Ginkaku-ji’s founder, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, is well-known as a key figure in the development of what are today considered intrinsically Japanese aesthetic principles. Not only that, Yoshimasa is said to have held a keen interest in bonseki, a precursor to bonsai, during his retirement at Ginkaku-ji in the 15th century.
Check out the vlog this week as we take a stroll through Katsura Rikyu and Ginkaku-ji in Kyoto!