2019 NO.26

Welcome to Japanese Gardens


Japanese Garden Expressed
in Digital Art

The development of digital technology enhances the way to enjoy a Japanese garden.

Photo/Cooperation: teamLab

“Drawing on Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and Boats – Mifuneyama Rakuen Pond”
Images of carp projected onto the surface of the pond change as a small boat floats and moves around, creating new expressions on the pond.

What digital art conveys
through highlighting nature as it exists within a garden

Mifuneyama Rakuen is famous for a 3,000 year-old - or older - sacred tree, the 7th largest in Japan.

Mifuneyama Rakuen is a magnificent garden in Saga Prefecture in the Kyushu region, covering an extensive area of 500,000 square meters and containing a large pond. Here, an art exhibition utilizing digital technology has been held each year since 2015. It is called “A Forest Where Gods Live” and is developed by teamLab, an art collective group of digital specialists.

Their vision of “mounting an exhibition whereby you feel as if you have strayed into an extensive garden and forest and become part of something” was realized as “A Forest Where Gods Live,” which teaches us a new way to enjoy a Japanese garden.

Japanese gardens are not confined to limited spaces within the garden framework. They are created in harmony with their surroundings by successive generations of gardeners. Therefore, there are no boundaries of space or time. In “A Forest Where Gods Live,” the shapes of the forest itself are utilized to transform the garden into digital art. Images of flowers blossoming and petals falling are projected onto a hug ancient rock in the garden after sunset. Also, images of carp are projected on the surface of water and their movements change as a small boat moves around the pond.

Digital technology makes it possible to turn nature into art without destroying the nature. Thus, the garden as it exists becomes a work of art. In a space where we feel as if we have been integrated into the surroundings, we can rediscover through this exhibition that there are certain aspects of nature and attractions of place (space) that emerge only after darkness meets modern technology.

Even if you think that you do not know how to appreciate Japanese gardens, what you feel through the exhibition is precisely the same sensation that experience when exploring such a garden; that is, “the feeling of being integrated into the space.” Even young persons can visit this Japanese garden to experience the Japanese concept of “uniting nature and people.”

Thanks to fusion with digital technology, a world emerges whereby you feel as if you have strayed into an unknown forest.

“Ever Blossoming Life Rock”: Flowers keep blossoming and their petals fall eternally onto a huge rock covered in moss. Images are continuously drawn in real time by a computer program, and the same image will never be repeated.


Founded in 2001, teamLab is an art collective, interdisciplinary group comprising specialists in the digital technology field. teamLab is exploring new relationships between humans and nature, and oneself and the world, through arts.