Jardins zen


Dans les années '80, j'ai eu l'occasion de visiter le Ryoan ji de Kyoto. Cette découverte m'a profondément marqué. Elle est pour beaucoup dans l'intérêt que je porte à la culture asiatique.


ce jour là, il pleuvait sur cette merveille...


Le Ryoan ji sur un superbe site en français, mais on peut aussi le voir ''pousser''  

Somptueuse présentation Japanese Gardens Index du Bowdoin College   connection parfois lente, patience !

Jardin Zen de Tao Yin

L'Art des Jardins Zen de Robert Linssen

The Gardens Of Tokyo  de Tim Porter


Pour clore provisoirement ce chapitre, voici retranscrit tel quel un article paru dans NATURE | VOL 419 | 26 SEPTEMBER 2002 | www.nature.com/nature, l'une des plus prestigieuses revues scientifiques mondiales, article qui propose une  interprétation du jardin de pierre du Ryoan ji...


Visual structure of a Japanese Zen garden


The mysterious appeal of a simple and  ancient composition of rocks is unveiled.


Fig 1  The Zen garden at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto , Japan , showing the simple arrangement of rocks that constitutes its design.


The dry landscape garden at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto , Japan , a UNESCO world heritage site, intrigues hundreds of thousands of visitors every year with its abstract, sparse and seemingly random composition of rocks and moss on an otherwise empty rectangle of raked gravel1. Here we apply a model of shape analysis in early visual processing2,3 to show that the ‘empty’ space of the garden is implicitly structured and critically aligned with the temple’s architecture. We propose that this invisible design creates the visual appeal of the garden and was probably intended as an inherent feature of the composition.

Created during the Muromachi era (AD 1333–1573), a period of significant innovation in the visual arts in Japan , the unknown designer left no explanation for the layout of the Ryoanji garden (Fig. 1).

The rocks have been considered to be symbolic representing, for example, a tigress crossing the sea with her cubs, or strokes of the Chinese character meaning ‘heart’ or ‘mind’4. Such symbolic interpretations do not relate to the experience of visually perceiving the garden, however, and provide little insight into the attraction that it holds even for naive viewers.

To examine the spatial structure of the Ryoanji garden, we computed local axes of symmetry using medial-axis transformation2,3, a shape-representation scheme that is used widely in image processing as well as in studies of biological vision. To understand the concept of medial-axis transformation, imagine drawing the outline of a shape in a field of dry grass and then setting it alight: the medial axis is the set of points where the inwardly propagating fires meet.  It has been shown that humans have an unconscious visual sensitivity to the axialsymmetry skeletons of stimulus shapes5.

The result of transforming the garden’s composition is shown in Fig. 2, in which the dark lines indicate loci of maximal local symmetry. The overall structure is a simple, dichotomously branched tree that converges on the principal garden-viewing area on the balcony. The connectivity pattern of the tree is self-similar, with the mean branch length decreasing monotonically from the trunk to the tertiary level. Both features are reminiscent of actual trees. 

Fig 2 Medial-axis transformation of the layout of the Zen garden, showing the rock clusters (top) and building plan (AD 1681) of the temple (outlined in white). Red square , the main hall; circle, the traditionally preferred viewing point for the garden; rectangle, alcove containing a Buddhist statue. If the positions of the rock clusters are rearranged randomly, features that were incorporated deliberately into the original design of the garden are destroyed (see supplementary information).


The trunk of the medial axis, along which the view of the garden provides maximal Shannon information about the scene6, passes close to the centre of the main hall, which would traditionally have been the preferred point from which to view the garden4. We found that imposing a random perturbation of the spatial locations of individual rock clusters in the garden layout destroys these special characteristics of the medial-axis skeleton, supporting the idea that the origin of the structure of the visual ground was not accidental.

There is a growing realization that scientific analysis can reveal unexpected structural features hidden in controversial abstract paintings7,8. We have uncovered the implicit structure of the Ryoanji garden’s visual ground and have shown that it includes an abstract, minimalist depiction of natural scenery. We believe that the unconscious perception of this pattern contributes to the enigmatic appeal of the garden.

Gert J. Van Tonder*, Michael J. Lyons†, Yoshimichi Ejima*

* Graduate School of Human and Environmental

Studies, Kyoto University , Kyoto 606-8501, Japan

ATR Media Information Science Laboratories,

Kyoto 619-0288, Japan

e-mail: mlyons@atr.co.jp

1.  Nitschke, G. Japanese Gardens (Taschen, Cologne, 1993).

2. Blum, H. J. Theor. Biol. 38, 205–287 (1973).

3. Van Tonder, G. J. & Ejima, Y. IEEE Trans. Syst. Man. Cybernet. B (in the press).

4.  Oyama, H. Ryoanji Sekitei: Nanatsu no Nazo wo toku (Ryoanji Rock Garden: Resolving Seven Mysteries) (Kodansha, Tokyo, 1995).

5. Kovacs, I. & Julesz, B. Nature 370, 644–646 (1994).

6. Leyton, M. Comp. Vis. Graph. Image Proc. 38, 327–341 (1987).