Miegakure, a garden design concept usually translated as ‘hide and reveal’, is originally derived from Chinese landscape paintings in which the artist creates perspective by leaving portions of the composition empty of paint and form, thereby controlling the viewpoint of the painting’s observer. In gardens which reference the principles of miegakure, the designer consciously controls what is visible and what is obscured from any one viewpoint in the garden. Such choreography of place creates an immersive and often dramatic experience of the garden for the viewer. This rhythm of hide and reveal can create anticipation as well.
For instance, in the design of Acadia Point, a rural retreat in Nova Scotia, the entry sequence to the property references clearly the principles of miegakure. A long gravel road winds through mossy forest, views of surrounding waters are intentionally obscured. Walking toward the house along a heavily planted and deliberately narrow path, ocean sounds and smells tantalize. At the top of the house’s high front steps, the breezeway opens onto a stunning panorama of sea, rocks, and windswept spruce, the unexpected reveal reached.
According to Eastern philosophy, this movement though the landscape between what is obscured and what is revealed draws us deeper into harmony with the universal, elemental rhythms of life – of darkness and light, of activity and passivity. Miegakure captures the moment of transformation from one to the other beautifully.