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shinsen shisō

cult of immortality

A philosophical perspective in ancient China, which developed from a combination of Taoism with the doctrine of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. It was a cult of longevity and eternal life, and those who obtained these goals were called Sages thought to live on special islands. In China, gardens symbolizing this cosmological view were built in the Qin and Han dynasties, and in Japan as well, gardens influenced by this perspective were made in the Asuka and Nara periods. Hōrai and crane-and-tortoise gardens, popular in the Momoyama and Edo periods, were also based in part on this philosophy.

Japanese Garden Dictionary: A Glossary for Japanese Gardens and Their History
(C) 2010 by Ono Kenkichi and Walter Edwards. All rights reserved.