Nestled within the foot of the Nasu Mountains, slightly North of Tokyo, is Art Biotop, an art retreat and artist’s residency. They offer classes in pottery and glass-blowing, as well as cycling and spa treatments. But one of their highlights is the meditative Water Garden designed by architect Junya Ishigami.
The water garden, comprised of 318 trees and 160 uniquely-sized biotopes (or ponds), appears to be a scene from out of a fantasy land. Indeed, despite the organic feel, such a garden should be physically impossible because the water basins would raise the water level to the point that the trees couldn’t thrive. This water garden is, in fact, a carefully calculated work of art that masks the human element that made it possible: a concept distilled from traditional Japanese gardens.
The trees that occupy the garden were originally located on the site where the hotel was to be built. Over the course of 4 years, each and every tree was carefully measured, uprooted, transported and replanted according to carefully considered blueprints. Numerous ponds were added between the trees to reflect sunlight that filters through the leaves. Blankets of moss were added to fill the spaces between the trees and ponds. The result is a contemplative environment that marries nature, art and human technology.
Guests staying at the retreat are allowed access to the garden but if you’d like to go for a day trip just to visit the garden you’ll need to book one of their tours.