SHIZEN: HORIZONS IN THE INNER WORLD
NATURE IN THE JAPANESE CULTURE
“It has been my impression that the Western mind, in its restless desire to seek new horizons in the physical world, would do well to learn a lesson in spiritual intensification from the Oriental mind,” noted Walter Gropius in 1954. The German architect who shared these thoughts upon his visit to Japan, hoped that “Oriental intensification” – by which he meant a more profound, spiritual engagement with nature – would inspire the West to “seek new horizons in the inner world.” How relevant are these observations today?
In the Japanese language the word nature – shizen – means “self-created;” having no beginning and no end; self-perpetuating. Like kamis – Shinto gods, who are perching near streams and waterfalls, lurking behind rocks, flying above rice paddies. The Japanese believe Nature is the manifestation of the Sacred.