The Sukiya style a new architectural setting for the Japanese garden

Just as the unpretentious tea garden, with its radically revised layout and new compositional components, was to exert a profound influence on subsequent garden design, so the modest tea house was to inspire an equally radical architectural development, the emergence of the Sukiya style.

Sukiya might best be translated as "a building of refined taste" The term first appears in a document of 1532; in the late sixteenth century it was used to describe a free-standing tea house. Only later did it come to denote a building, or group of buildings, incorporating elements of tea-house architecture. According to Teiji Itoh, it was Sen no Rikyu "who fathered the Sukiya style" with his design for the "coloured shorn" in Hideyoshi's Juraku-dai Palace in Kyoto." ZangetSu-tei Pavilion in the Omote Senke School is a smaller, modified version of this structure, and was designed by Rikyu's adopted son. Sen no Shoan.

The shinden-zukuri and shoin-zukuri styles characterizing the architectural settings of previous gardens were required to fulfil two specific functions: at a symbolic level they were to express social and religious sta tus. while at a structural level there were forcibly to combine a variety of different rooms beneath a single, predetermined roof shape Remarkably, it was the humble tea house which was to release Japanese architecture from both of ihese constraints and give birth to a freer ground plan and more functional design unparalleled until modern times.

Although the Sukiya style arose initially from the Shoin-style residences of samurai warriors and Buddhist priests, it found new inspiration by returning to its architectural roots, the striple farmhouse It slowly transcended both social and religious symbolism and class barriers, and came to be applied equally to ordinary homes and luxurious leisure palaces.

The special features of Sukiya architecture are perhaps best illustrated in Katsura Imperial Villa, built in stages between 1616 ard 1660 by Prince Hachijo no Miya Toshihito and his son Noritada. The villa complex lies on the western banks of the Katsura river and was originally reached by boat. It consists of three shoin in staggered succession and four tea arbours of unsurpassed beauty, integrated within a pond-and-island garden. The garden has the generous proportions of the south gardens of the Heian era, in the suplnstica-tion and taste with which even the tiniest details are blended into the overall whole, however, it is infused with the spirit of the tea garden. It is not surprising, then, to find early records referring to the imperial residence as simply the "tea house on the Katsura river" The modest roji, tie "dewy path", became the determining feature of the garden It is a path of

The elegant hnes of the o<d. white sfxxn of Katsura wHa, seen from the far shores of the central pood

architecture of the small tea house in their complete openness to the garden. Whereas the garden was deliberately excluded from :he small tea arbour, it now seems to permeate the entire building complex. The enclosed, introspective space of the tea house, dimly lit and darkly mysterious, here gives way to spaciousness and daylight.

At the same time, however, Sukiya architecture has much in common with the tea-house style. Both share a preference for diagonals: objects intended for particular attention are almost always approached from an oblique angle, as are gates, doors and buildings. Entire complexes are composed along diagonal or zigzag lines, and Katsura Villa represents one of most elegant examples of such a diagonally-staggered arrangement of buildings. The result is obvious: whether indoors or outdoors, the visitor is totally enveloped within a man-made environment in which the right angle is played against natural form. This diagonal alignment, allowing maximum interpénétration of buildings and garden, has the evocative Japanese name of ganko, "the pattern that wild geese f y".

exquisite stepping-stones which leads the visitor past a sequence of tea arbours and specially-designed views, providing a model for the large gardens for strolling of the later Edo era.

Katsura Impenal villa, and indeed the emerging Sukiya style as a whole, differ fundamentally from the

Viw from Shokm-tei. the Pine Lute pavilion. Swards a garden scene representing Amanohashidate. the 'Bridge of Hmvw* Ths tog. pme<overed sand bar is one of the three tjmous natural sights m Japan's Tango provwxe The garden here seems to extend right into the tea room it set/

Foto Per Muri

Path Of natural stones leadng to the outer waiting booth of Shokin-tei tea amour which lies out of sight further do**) tne path

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