Daisen Inn, Daitoku-ji monastery, Kyoto

In 1996 I re-visited one of the most famous and inspiring gardens in Japan, The Daisen In Shoin temple garden at Daitoku-ji Monastery, Kyoto. I arranged to sit with the Abbot one morning on the meditation platform beside the garden, to enjoy a discussion with him. He performed a Japanese tea ceremony, a very formal way of serving green tea with a bowl and tea powder and stirring in the hot water with something that looked like an old-fashioned shaving brush. I was inspired by the miniature garden of rocks, raked gravel and carefully pruned trees representing a mountain valley and river going under a stone bridge. It was fascinating, and my spirit was uplifted by this extraordinary and peaceful meditation garden. The aim of Japanese gardens is typically to create a representation of nature in which human involvement is concealed. The garden at Daisen In was a superb example of this and an ideal place to meditate to be as the Zen Buddhists say “one with nature”.