Hoshinoya Kyoto

At the edge of Kyoto, a slow sailboat takes hotel guests downriver to a bygone world.

  • Words Stephanie d’Arc Taylor
  • Photography Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

Gardens are planned spaces; liminal borders between the human concepts of aesthetic beauty and unbounded nature. How people apply order to nature reflects their own particular cultural learnings about control and chaos.

The Japanese garden aesthetic, in contrast to western European traditions of tightly prescribed knots, hedgerows, and geometrically shaped flower beds, is imperfect, asymmetrical, and inconstant by design. From the smallest atrium garden to the largest parks, irregularity reigns: odd numbers are always preferable to even (the number four is considered unlucky in Japanese culture), changes made by winds or rains are embraced, and any non-natural elements, like lacquered bridges or stone lanterns, are left exposed to the elements as a reminder of time’s inevitable progre...


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