Wa-Shin-An, which translates literally as "Peace-Mind-House", is a traditional Japanese meditation garden and teahouse, built throught the generosity of alumnae and friends of Mount Holyoke College. Designed to present the universe in miniature - but a universe tranquilized and cleansed - it offers a refuge from the distraction of our lives, a place to cultivate the silence of the heart.

Teruo Hara, a noted ceramicist as well as a master architect and builder, used only traditional Japanese hand tools to build the house and the garden's enclosure. He worked in the sukiya zukuri style of teahouse, which was perfected by the great Sen no Rikyu in the sixteenth century. Rikyu is also honored as the master who perfected chanoyu, the art of tea.

Osamu Shimizu designed and planted the gareden in the kare sansui style, which symbolically gathers the world into a small, balanced space. White pebbles may be viewed as the sea; rocks, as mountains and the cliffs which bind the sea. Mosses may define lowland plains. Other plantings may represent inland forests and fields.

Meditation gardens and teahouses were traditionally intended to bring us beyond even peace. To enter the ceremony of tea and to forget your separateness while drinking it - that is the art of tea. In such moments the innermost goodness of our being asserts itself, and we are whole again, beyond confusion.




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