starbuckaroogirl
Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:04 am
Location: Washington State

Color of bridge in Japanese garden

What is the meaning of having a red painted bridge in a Japanese garden? My husband and I are planning a Japanese theme for a large garden area, with a waterfall, and have come across several examples of Japanese gardens with red walk bridges. We have a bridge we have constructed, it is unpainted. I want it to be red, but he does not. I like the red color, and I like how it is contrasting to the green foliage, and the dark rocks of the waterfall. But he prefers the uncolored, natural wood. I wanted to find out what the significance of a red bridge is in the Japanese culture, and why the bridges are sometimes painted red. Please let me know soon, as he is planning on installing the bridge in the next month. Once the bridge is installed, painting it would be much more difficult, if not impossible. Thanks!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a few thousand words on why to have a red bridge and how traditional they are:

[url=https://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Netherlands/South/Zuid_Holland/The_Hague/photo1078619.htm]TrekEarth Gallery[/url]

https://www.flickr.com/photos/toshio1/4078719251/

https://us.fotolia.com/id/14557239

[url=https://www.shutterstock.com/pic-16232854/stock-photo-japanese-red-ornamental-bridge-crossing-a-lake.html]Ornamental Bridge[/url]

https://www.redbubble.com/people/marilynbaldey/art/3170882-2-red-bridge-and-reflections-toowoomba-japanese-gardens-qld

https://www.flickr.com/photos/7455207@N05/2543852649/

The red bridge was known as Guzei and it was supposed to represent the route blessed to take to salvation.

If you look at the Gardening Articles part of Helpful Gardener, there is an [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/japanese/2003/zen.html]article about Zen Garden Aesthetics[/url] that quotes this:

Since the Dewy Path
Is that way that lies outside
This most impure world
Shall we not on entering it
Cleanse our hearts of earthly mire? Rikyu

The bridge, particularly the bridge over water, represents crossing over from one world to the next, from the profane to the sacred, cleansing yourself to enter the pure world of nature.

In Zen symbolism red represents life force, preservation, the sacred, and red transforms the delusion of attachment into the wisdom of discernment. https://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/color.htm

Thus the symbolism of the bridge is reinforced by it being red, i.e. sacred and transforming worldliness into wisdom.


PS. Welcome to our forum... hope you find it friendly and helpful!

User avatar
koiboy01
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: U K

HI,
All though they do have red painted bridges in Japanese gardens I think you will find that they are usually in Chinese gardens ,and yes there is a difference between Japanese and Chinese gardens.
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

There is a difference between Chinese and Japanese esthetics and the Chinese are more prone to using red, whereas the Japanese/Zen esthetic tends to be all neutral and natural colors.

Nonetheless all the pictures I linked to are explicitly labelled as Japanese gardens and the word Guzei for red bridge is a Japanese not a Chinese word.

User avatar
koiboy01
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: U K

Hi Rainbowgardener,
Very true, I am agreeing with you not disagreeing,
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

rajjda
Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:35 am
Location: United States

Japanese bridge

Do not paint a bridge in a japanese inspired garden....the red bridge is chinese and adds a whole new flavor into the garden....

User avatar
SP8
Green Thumb
Posts: 317
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 3:29 am
Location: Nagoya: Japan

Yep the Japanese much prefer the concrete look.

Here's a shot I took of the aptly named Straddling Rainbow Bridge from Shukkeien Gardens in Hiroshima.

[img]https://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a360/SamhainP8/RB.jpg[/img]
I >>used to<< grow vegetables in containers on my balcony and this >>was<< my Blog:
VEGGIE-MIGHT

Return to “Japanese Garden Forum”