The gate is usually called “chumon”, which means “inner gate" in Japanese, but it also has another name, “baiken-mon”, which means “plum blossom viewing gate".
The chumon gate’s message to visitors is that they should leave worldly affairs behind, come into the world of the tea ceremony and be prepared to enjoy it.
With that message in mind, you can take your time enjoying the peaceful spots in the garden, which is called “roji”, until it is time for the tea ceremony inside the tea house.
In order to protect the moss from the winter frost and snow, the gardeners cover it with dried pine needles. The carpet of pine needles in the winter is another treat for your eyes so that you appreciate the different views of each season.
Every time I visit a beautifully cared-for garden, I feel somewhat guilty for not taking good care of my own traditional garden at home.
A gardener in Kenninji Temple in Kyoto once gave me some advice about caring for moss in a Japanese garden. He said that I should gently rake the surface of the moss every day, making it stand straight. That exposes it to more fresh air and sunlight.
He recommended I water the moss, especially in the height of summer, twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.
For the entire Shirotori Garden, there are a total of only six gardeners, getting their hands dirty every day, which must be very challenging.
It is also enlightening for me to know that these six gardeners work on one section each day before they move on to the next, and they repeat this until they cover the entire Shirotori garden throughout the year.
If you have a chance to come over to Shirotori Garden in Nagoya, please enjoy several other elements of the inner garden and please feel how carefully the gardeners have taken care of it for you, guests so that you sense the nature in this little garden.