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Jardin japonais du musée Albert Kahn
Name:Jardin japonais du musée Albert Kahn garden photo
Musée Albert Kahn
Photo: Robert Cheetham

Alternate Name: 
Address:14, rue du Port 
Mailing Address: 
Postal Code:92100 
Latitude/Longitude:lat=48.85; long=2.23
Find Gardens Nearby
Phone:+33 (0) 
Designer(s):Achille Duchene; Takano Fumiako (1988-1990) 
Construction Period:1895 - 1910 
Hours:October 1 - April 30, 11am - 5:30pm. May 1 - September 30, 11am - 6:30pm. Closed Mondays. 
Admission:15-23 francs. 
Added to JGarden:10/17/2001 
Last Updated:10/17/2001 
JGarden Description:This museum was established and endowed by Albert Kahn (1860-1940) in the early 20th century. The gardens were constructed beginning in 1895, but modifications continue to this day. A garden pavilion was opened in 1965 and the gallery building that houses the photographic archive of Kahn's various photographic expeditions was opened in 1992. The area nearest the museum is the Japanese garden with the 'Blue Forest', Vosge Forest and the Orchard in the area furthest away, behind the greenhouse/restaurant/pavilion. The Blue Forest has been closed since 1998 due to damage incurred in the hurricane that year. It is expected to re-open in 2002.

The Japanese garden is a bit inconsistent. It is unclear to me how much of it was designed by Kahn himself, and what was done later. Albert Kahn had visited Japan twice and had clearly visited many gardens and temples while there. The section closest to the museum building is quite well conceived, constructed and somewhat well maintained. But the area moving away from the building along the artificial stream and toward the pond does not work well at all. It begins with an incongruous stone and cement cone that is likely modeled after the conical sand forms at Ginkakuji, but it doesn't work very well at all here. The cement edging along the serpentine stream that leads from the cone is quite obtrusive and the design unresolved. There are, nonetheless, many fine tree specimens including ginkgo biloba, linden, and poplar. In addition, some pier-like structures that jut into the stream are very beautiful. These are the vestiges of an old milk factory transported here from Normandy by Kahn.

Kahn began building the Orchard, Palmarium and gardens on three parcels of land of four hectares that he acquired in 1895. He hired the landscape architect Achille Duchene to do the design. His intent was a world study center where students could gather to study the cultures of the world and further his dream of an international civilization and a search for peace between all peoples. To this end he established fellowships for graduate students, began a Planetary Archive (Archives de la Planéte) of images and movies collected from all over the world. Kahn, the wealthy banker, lost most of his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929, but most of the various institutions he established survive to this day, though their goal is now primarily one of conservation. Nearest metro stop is Boulogne Pont de St. Cloud (last stop on Line 10). There is also an associated library and 'Maison de la Nature' at 9, quai du 4 Septembre 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt (0) 

Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto
Only in the cloister
Could such a garden thrive, a soil where nature
    Flowers in spiritual dryness,
Drawing an interior nurture
    From sand and rock.

Where the labyrinth of illusion
    No longer entangles the senses
Enmeshing vision in delusive lusters;
Where the lust of the eyes is silenced
And desire of forms, and names of forms,
    Move to no visible end.

Those who planted here
Sowed no ephemeral seed
For the seasonal tempests to scatter,
But the silent root that ripens in detachment,
    Flowers in renunciation.

Gardeners of eternity,
Those who planted here
    Framed the garden in the image of a desert
    And the desert in the image of a sea --
Then shrunk the seas to the mind's salt and, tasting,
    Dissolved all thought away.

On these rocks no water breaks. Without attrition
Tides and currents in this ocean rest and revolve
    In a void of sound, vortex of sand; perpetual
Circles enmesh and paralyzed sea and air:
The effigy of time and measure
    Purged of time and measure

Becalmed on this dead sea of being
No wave moves, no wind of desire
    Flexes the indolent sail.
But focussing its single eye
On dreamless immobility
The gulf like a burnished mirror
    Regards the empty void.

In this dead sea of vision the surges
Merge without movement; the tides
Indifferent to flood and ebb
    Freeze in a flux of haste.
The seagull without motion
Broods on the changeless waste,
Then sinks, his feathers frozen,
    In a sand ocean.

Frail caravels who sail
This subtle gulf, morte mer,
Who stir with urgent keel
The fossil waters of the Great Mirage,
    Or steer by lodestone to delusive ports:

In this calm beyond stasis, dead calm,
No compass points to the land,
    No magnet of attachment
    Guides the helmsman's hand
Through fifteen naked rocks in raked and rhythmic sand.

Here is no sea for the admirals,
The whalers, the merchants of cargoes --
    Those finite venturers for the temporal haven.
These depths are destination,
And naufrage sweeter than harbor.
    Shipwreck is haven on this inland sea.

  John M. Steadman
  20th Century

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2015 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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