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The Tea-House - Focal Point of the Garden
From the bower of leaves, the path leads to the tea-house or summer-house with a double roof. In China, tiled double roofs indicated that the owner of the house was of high social status. Examples include the roofs of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Leverkusen tea-house was inspired by Chinese architecture, and some of the furniture inside is from China.
Two bronze temple lions guard the entrance. Guardian figures like this are also found outside Chinese palaces and Japanese temples. In Japan they are sometimes called “Korean temple dogs” (Koma-inu), because they travelled through Korea on their way from the “Middle Kingdom” to the “Land of the Rising Sun.” The Japanese even used to believe that animals like this really existed in Korea.
The interior of the tea-house is decorated with carved wood panels, gold paint. Pairs of dragons and phoenixes symbolize a good ruler or a flourishing country. The panel with the three monkeys holding their paws over their eyes, ears and mouth (see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil) is a copy of a famous original in Nikkô.
Another panel depicts the seven Japanese gods that bring good luck (Shichifuku-jin). They were probably originally Chinese deities, but became very popular in Japanese folk beliefs, which are marked by Shinto philosophy. This is why they are often represented in art. We will see one of them, Daikoku, the god of good harvests and good fortune, again in another part of the garden.
The interior walls of the tea-house and the lamp-stands are decorated with Chinese paintings. A visitor peeping through the windows with their carved wooden frames automatically feels transported into an exotic world.
Stone lanterns and statues stand beside the paths around the tea-house. The most striking figure is undoubtedly the small bronze statue of a “water-moon kannon” (suigetsu kannon) behind the tea-house terrace. This is a late Japanese representation of the Avalokitesvara (guanyin in Chinese, kannon in Japanese), a figure in the Buddhist pantheon. Avalokitesvara also enables the simple devotee to be released from the endless cycle of rebirth at the point of death.
Notice to Visitors
The entire park is accessible except for the Japanese Garden, where restrictions apply to prams (baby carriages), wheelchairs and dogs. However, the path around the edge offers a good view of a large part of this garden.