Omotenashi. Japanese hospitality will move to the garden


Omotenashi. Japanese hospitality will move to the garden and Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Kazuyuki Ishihara and his Japanese gardens do not go unnoticed, neither does he. He is as well known at Chelsea Flower Show as his gardens are, as opposed to the ones he usually poses to immortalize that moment. Last year he did it with Gosho No Niwa No Wall, No War, garden for he won a gold medal in this category.

In fact, he has been faithful to his appointment to that festival of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) since 2006. There he has received several medals in different categories; as it has done in other festivals of gardens of international relevance, such as Singapore. A year ago I made a “tour” through some of those gardens, see: Kazuyuki Ishihara and the Japanese gardens.

He commented then that in his professional career we see how his works tend to be specially designed to become urban gardens, spaces that are filled with green walls that evoke the passage of time; of color, that of the flowering plants and that of colorful maples; of water, with ponds that reflect the green that surrounds them and manage to create a sensation of freshness very suitable to help counteract the effect “heat island” typical of large cities.

“Omotenashi” • Japanese hospitality

This year, faithful to all those principles and elements, Kazuyuki Ishihara will exhibit a new garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018, within the Artisan Gardens category. On this occasion, it is a traditional garden inspired by the prized Japanese culture of omotenashi (お も て な し), the concept of unconditional and sincere hospitality, and the desire to invoke this feeling in the garden guests.


Some experts think that the essence of omotenashi is that, after someone has done something good for us, we must do something good for the other person. There are also those who find that Japanese hospitality is the result of the ritual of tea and martial arts.

The term omotenashi became fashionable a few years ago during Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Regardless of the origin and nuances of that hospitality to which the term refers, everyone agrees that the omotenashi is, above all, a way of life in Japan.

O-Mo-Te-Na-Shi No NIWA • The Garden

In the garden, the plantation will be based on Ikenobo, a type of Japanese floral arrangement dating back to the 15th century (it is the largest and oldest school in Japan of ikebana or Japanese flower arrangement); with the location of the plants and the color distribution carefully considered in relation to the space.

The key feature is an octagonal Azumaya, garden house or summer pavilion that is usually found in Japanese formal gardens, which is covered by traditional Japanese tiles baked in the oven. There is also a central pond surrounded by Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). The natural sound of the water falling on the rock encourages the oblivion of time and the feeling of eternity.

At the moment we can only see the sketch, but if you want to familiarize yourself with your work, you can see more images at this link.

I remind you that I have also already commented on Sarah Price’s Mediterranean-inspired garden, in the Show Gardens category; and green oasis of London’s West End by Kate Gould.