Shakkei and Borrowed scenery

When during design and construction of a Japanese garden nearby or distant landscape and landmarks are taken into consideration, and used in such way that it appears to be part of the garden or at least of the view of the garden, this is called "borrowed scenery". The Japanese term for the technique of doing this, is Shakkei.
Although the practice was originally associated with certain Buddhist beliefs related to geomancy [14], nowadays popularised as Feng Shui, (fusui in Japanese) Yin Yang, it later became a purely aesthetic concept related to the spatial arrangements of Chinese and Japanese landscape painting.

Below are a few of many pictures showing how the garden integrates with the surrounding, or actually uses it, by means of Shakkei (method to incorporate "borrowed scenery"). All of these are taken from the main garden compartment looking towards and over the water front (back side) compartment.

Center back the Pinus densiflora or Japanese Red Pine, "Me-matsu".
In the backdrop "borrowed scenery" (from the golf course) in summer.
A more distant autumn view across the Ginshanada, gravel area. 2365
Same situation as above now looking over the main O-karikomi.

Like the following photo, this photo shows an interesting yet subtle design principle used to create or strengthen the illusion of perspective and depth (see explanation below).
A Summer view from the veranda.
The shrubs used in the foreground have larger leaves than those more distant in the background. Due to the subconscious interpretation that the leaves of the shrubs more distant to the viewer are of the same size, the impression or illusion of depth gets reinforced. The same effect can be established by use of colors.
Lighter colors seem closer and darker colors give enhance the experience of distance.
Early spring (with a working sprinkler) view of the O-karikomi and the "borrowed", now look-trough, backdrop. 1125
In the left the Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine, prior to its first fukinaoshi 15 treatment.

In the backdrop the now snow covered "borrowed scenery" (on the golf course).

To get a better idea of the "borrowed scenery" we see in different directions from various viewpoints in all seasons, Google Earth is a great tool. Easy to install if you do not have it installed.
See: Tsubo-en in Google Earth   The Tsubo-en location in Google Earth.

Borrowed scenery (using shakkei technique) examples

This section shows a selection of fine authentic examples that all originate from Japan. These examples show how design principles and rules are applied and interpreted and how and what materials are used in genuine Japanese gardens. These examples should be of help and inspiration during realization of your own Japanese garden.

Part of these photos is from our own trips others have been collected from different sources, including but not limited to the Internet. New examples will be frequently added.

From the temple, Mt Atago can be viewed in the distance as a "borrowed view" beyond the garden. 
In the center of the raked gravel, there are two artificial rock islands called Tsuru Island and Kame Island. 
Both of them are surrounded by large shaped azalea topiary, "okarikomi", arranged along small artificial hills. 
This form was also used to illustrate the "Seigaiha" (one form of Gagaku).   Shoden-ji, has a garden featuring shakkei-technique or "borrowed scenery". 
The garden uses Mount Hiei as a backdrop to a contemplation garden.   Adachi Museum of Art, located in Shimane Prefecture.

Top of page