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Traditional Korean Garden in Yokohama

A 5,000 square meter garden, Korea Teien was built in 1990 to commemorate the friendship between Kanagawa prefecture in Japan and Gyeonggi-do province in South Korea. The garden’s style was based on the gardens of provincial royalty in Korea during the Joseon dynasty (1392 to 1910). It is located within Mitsuike Koen, a park in Yokohama city’s Tsurumi ward.

House within the gardens

House within the gardens.

Of interest to me was the interior of a wooden house with white plaster walls in the main garden. According to a guide pamphlet found inside, this space was for the master of the house to entertain guests. The posts around the building are inscribed with poetry describing the surrounding landscape. Korean traditional furniture, pottery and clothing are displayed inside the rooms.

I found the roof structure particularly interesting, with its exposed rafters and crossbeams bringing the “outside in”. The subtle rays of light coming through the white paper of the latticed windows gave the interiors a touch of drama.

Exposed beams and rafters

Exposed beams and rafters.

There were several pieces of well-crafted antique furniture on display, and true to Joseon tradition of Confucian simplicity, they were unpainted and had minimal ornamentation. The main materials were paulownia, pine and pagoda wood, with the traditional finishing method giving the pieces just a bit of shine and emphasizing the natural wood grain.

Of particular note was a euigeorijang or wardrobe. It had a plain rectangular shape but was imposing and had verses of poetry carved on the doors. There was also a pyeonsang or wooden bed, which was used both as a seat and a bed. On it was a jukbuin or “bamboo wife”, a latticed roll made of thin strips of bamboo used as a summer pillow. One piece of furniture that stood out was a bandaji or clothing chest. It was less than a meter tall and decorated on the front with metal ornaments and hinges; the nicely patterned grain of the pagoda wood was beautiful in itself.

Chest with metal hinges

Chest with metal hinges.

Korea Teien is open to all and has no admission fee. The park where it is located is also free. If you like Asian traditional gardens and antique furniture, then it’s worth a visit when in or near Yokohama.

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Choi Sang-Hun, Interior Space and Furniture of Joseon Upper-class Houses. Ewha Womans University Press, 2007. Hardcover, 164 pages.

External Links

Mitsuike Koen – Park’s page in Japanese.
Gyeonggi-do – Wikipedia entry in English.

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  1. I’d like to try that bamboo wife in the summer. I can’t imagine how it can be comfortable.

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