“U Raku En” – this symbolizes a long held dream of the Deutsch-Japanische Gesellschaft. In April 2004 it became reality in the shape of a Japanese Garden during the “Landesgartenschau” in Trier.
The three Kanjis are not easily translated into another language, but roughly mean something like this: “A hometown for everyone, to find rest and leisure.”
The U Raku En garden has a speciality, it forms a harmonious whole out of elements of three styles of japanese gardens: arid landscape garden, tea garden and convertible garden.
You enter the garden through a gateway; now there is large granite expanse built from large, rectangular, carved by hand stone slabs. Here is room for smaller events, such as tea ceremonies or a shintoistic initiations ceremony. Wanted are the circa one cm wide joints between the tiles, so that one can try to guess the massiveness and heaviness. The area is limited by a bamboo fence behind which lays a wide white gravel surface.
In this gravel surface shallow hills, covered with moss, are crowned by mighty stones. Illustrated through the stylistic device of the arid landscape garden “Kare San Sui” is an island scenery, which you might be able to see, would you stand on a Japanese coast. The so called “Zen gardens” are often mistaken to be related to the arid landscape garden. Unfortunately this is widely used although it has normally no foundation at all. “Zen” is a religious practice and is only in very rare cases related to garden design. Many famous gardens lay in Zen monasteries which may be the cause for the flawed term.
If you look to the right you will see a water basin which lays scenic beneath a Japanese maple. This “Tsukubai” was originally intended as a hand washbasin for visitors in the so called “tea garden” and generally without flowing water. During winter it was filled with warm water for the visitors. Nowadays they are independent components in various styles of garden design, though mostly used in connections with water games out of bamboo.
Now if you turn to your left, you will leave the granite expanse and tread a curved trail of basalt chips. This path symbolizes the Moselle which winds between the green rhododendron hills and then disappears between the great trees in the exit area. The rhododendron hills are worth an interesting glance through all the seasons. Originally, azalea hills were planted by the architect Suzuki Shigeichi, which would have been a prime example for the common Japanese shape cutting technique “Karikomi”. However, the location on the “Petrisberg” is extremely unsuited due to its exposed position for Japanese azalea. Instead rhododendron yakushimanum were planted. Multiple cultivation cuttings throughout the year keep the rhododendron to their original height from about 40cm.
Altogether the U Raku En garden combines modern as well as traditional elements of Japanese garden designs, even though the traditional amount is far higher. Most importantly though, it is a prime example of Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship.
For questions about the U Raku En you are welcome to send an e-mail to our referent Petra-Claudia Hogh, E-mail: Petra-Claudia.Hogh@djg-trier.de .
You can find some pictures attached (zip-Archiv) so you can conceive an idea of the beauty of the garden.