Friday, July 29, 2011


"Mundane on the outside, sacred on the inside."


What is a Japanese gate? Wikipedia offers us a description:

“Unlike gates of secular buildings, most temple and shrine gates are purely symbolic elements of liminality, as they cannot be completely closed and just mark the transition between the mundane and the sacred. In many cases, for example that of the sanmon, a temple gate has purifying, cleansing properties.”

I liked this description because it embodies exactly what I had in mind when I finished building the fence in the summer of 2010 and knew that I would eventually have to fully enclose the garden - mundane on the outside, sacred on the inside. The problem was what style of gate to use.

The images below were ones I came across on the web that reflected traditional Japanese styles:

The last one above (curved roof) came from a website called Woodshop Creative Builders, a company that sells kits for a variety of Japanese style structures, including gates. Financially, purchasing a custom kit was out of the question (I’m too poor). However, their design was similar to the ones I came across online (see images below).

Although I really liked the roof, my do-it-yourself budget wasn’t going to allow for the expense of such as structure (nor do I think I would have received a permit from the town). Instead, I opted to use the basic frame, but without a roof. As a result, my gate looks more like a an arbor entry way. Again, I was inspired by gate images I came across on the web:

So, here is my basic design for the gate in the back of the garden (far side - not between the house and garage):

It is off center because it’s actually centered on the gravel driveway along side the garage (three feet from the fence line on the right and about five feet from the garage wall on the left (along which a two foot rock bed lays - eventually to be planted with large Hosta).

Here are some images of the early construction and near complete gate:

Almost done - need some more bamboo for the left panel, copper caps for the support posts, flashing for the arbor posts, and some touch up stain.

Unfortunately, between the Moon Window extension and this arbor entry way, I went over my allotted garden budget for the summer. Two gates will eventually be added, but probably not until summer 2012. In the mean time, I will be reading up on how to build gate doors.

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