Sandy Smith of Womble Carlyle is an attorney who appreciates the beauty of Japanese Gardens.

Japanese gardens take their roots in two ancient Japanese customs. The first one is the aboriginal prehistoric tradition to devote bits of graveled forests to spirits. The second tradition comes from China and Korea. It brings to the gardens elements such as rock compositions, ponds, and waterfalls.

Sandy Smith of Womble Carlyle History of Japanese Gardens

In Western countries, the word “garden” describes a place where people grow plants, for example, “vegetable garden” or “apple garden.” The word may also describe a place where flowers, trees, and other plants are aesthetically arranged to provide enjoyment to the visitors of the garden. From the Japanese perspective, this definition is very narrow because some of the gardens in Japan include only rocks and gravel and don’t have any growing plants.

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The word for the term “garden” in the Japanese language consists of two parts. The first part describes ancient sacred places where ceremonies were carried out to honor and welcome the spirits. The second part of the word describes an area dense in clay located in front of a farmhouse. The Japanese used this area to welcome guests and perform their daily chores. This means that Japanese gardens represent a continuum that extends from places created for sacred purposes, includes gardens that combine aesthetics with philosophical wisdom, and ends with purely secular gardens. Many people, including Sandy Smith of Womble Carlyle, consider the gardens in the middle of this continuum to be some of the best in Japan.