The Japanese garden
The Japanese garden, born of the desire to create a living space for an 18th-century lantern, occupies an area of some fifteen meters by five, and is an invitation to journey or to dream.
Located above the museum basement, it could only fall into the category known as kare sansui, or dry gardens, in which raked gravel symbolises real water. Composed of 20 stones, all of which come from the Upper Valais region of Switzerland, the garden is designed to be seen from several fixed viewpoints, either from the ground floor French windows, or from the exhibition rooms of the first floor, from which it turns into an aerial view of the Japanese islands.
In such gardens, strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism, the stone compositions are rich in symbolism, some of which has been expressed here. Three standing stones form a triad known as the Three Venerable Ones; present in 70 % of gardens, this group protects the residence from evil spirits. A group of nine stones, strongly structured, suggests a wild coastline, a shore of cliffs beaten by violent waves. Five stones form the Crane peninsula, with two stones placed diagonally to stand for the open wings of the bird, and the other three representing the neck, body and tail. To the left of a bonsai pine tree, lies a Turtle island, its stones depicting the shell, head and flippers; to the right of the pine, a small stone represents a young turtle. Finally, a solitary reef stone symbolises the Japanese archipelago emerging from the depths of the Pacific Ocean.