In this Japanese garden, designed according to the principles of zen buddhism, people can enjoy a moment of peace away from the bustling city.
The Japanese garden can be accessed through the galleries of the Buddhist Pantheon, which are an annexe of the Guimet museum. The latter was created in 1889 by Emile Guimet (1836-1918), an industrialist from Lyon who was a major collector. He wanted to open a museum devoted to religions of Egypt, classical Antiquity and Asian countries in Paris. Since 1945, the museum is solely devoted to Asian arts. Opened in 1991, the Buddhist Pantheon, as an annex of the Guimet museum, displays a part of the Buddhist statues collections brought back from Japan by Emile Guimet.
The man who calls himself Buddha and whose actual name was Siddhartha Gautama was an Indian nobleman who lived in the 6th century B.C. He was educated as a warrior and lived a very wealthy life before discovering how his fellow people suffered: he then chose to go into exile and experienced an ascetical life for 7 years. Eventually he reached what he defined as the awakening of knowledge and is considered as the first Buddha, the “Awakened”. His teachings were the foundation of the Buddhist religion, that some people compare to a philosophy. Buddhism promotes ahimsa as a virtue and a condition to reach nirvana: people should not kill or hurt others in any way.
In Japan, Buddhism is the most popular religion with shintoism. It has strongly influenced – and still does – the Japanese culture. Zen gardens are a good example of this influence: mixing vegetable and mineral elements, characterised by the presence of water, they often host tea houses, creating a perfect setting for meditation. The 450 m² garden behind the galleries of the Buddhist Pantheon houses a rare tea house which was designed by zen Japanese masters in 2001. Tea ceremonies take place in this house on a regular basis: they offer a unique opportunity to experience one of the most refined aspects of the Japanese way of life. They also allow visitors to understand how Japanese people value communion with nature and the quality of interpersonal relationships.
This station of the trail reminds us that peace is also inner peace, the peace of mind, as the Buddhist religion teaches.