Rough rock walls line the smooth stone-paved approach, which passes by two carved stone sentries marking the entrance to the Suifūso guesthouse.

Every room at the Suifūso Guesthouse has a different view of the surrounding

garden. Designed together, the buildings and garden provide a seamless

experience of architecture in nature. The level of the floors as they relate to the

exterior ground surfaces, the specific position of each window, and the exact

length of the overhanging roof eaves—these details were carefully considered to

create a continuous experience of space from inside to outside. Conceived as a

place for people to retreat from their busy contemporary lives, Suifūso gives

guests the opportunity to reconnect with nature in order to heal and revive their


Shunmyo Masuno believes that quiet places in nature—the mountains, seas,

and forests—have the power to give us strength to find the energy within

ourselves to make positive change in our feelings and to calm our hearts. His

intention for the design of the Mushintei garden was to create these kinds of

spaces of “great” nature—abundant and vast—for the guests at Suifūso. By

basing his design on traditional Japanese concepts of beauty and refinement,

Masuno aimed to connect to the value inherent in traditional Japanese culture. To

reflect this aim, he named the garden, Mushintei, a combination of the word for

garden, tei, with the Zen Buddhist word mushin. Mushin typically is translated as

“without mind” or “no mind.” It does not mean that the mind is empty rather the

mind is uncluttered and open to receive. It is the state of mind necessary to allow

the subconscious mind to flow freely, to reconnect with our inner spirit. Buddhist

scholar Daisetz T. Suzuki explains mushin as when the “mind is in complete

harmony with the principle of life itself.”

The stark karesansui (dry) garden complements the bold combination of traditional and contemporary architecture of the main reception hall.

A large kutsunuki-ishi (“shoe-removing stone”) and adjacent stepping-stones create a transition between the reception hall and the garden and a place to pause to remove one’s shoes before entering the hall.

The expansive Mushintei garden surrounds the Suifūso guesthouse, creating varied scenery for the different interior spaces.

To achieve the experience of great nature and the mushin mind, the

expansive garden integrates three separate waterfalls as focal points. With their

respective streams and ponds, the falls create spaces of positive tension—

dynamic yet calm. The first waterfall, called Haku-un no Taki or White Cloud

Falls, is seen from the lounge upon entering the guesthouse and is the guest’s

first view of the garden. This moment of pause in front of a powerful waterfall

gushing into a quiet pond sets the tone for the visitor. A background of greenery

sets off groupings of large rocks. A few tree branches sweep across the framed

view, and a single carved stone lantern anchors one end of the scene.

Seen from the Haku-un no Taki (White Cloud Falls), large stepping-stones draw near a low waterfall, with the guesthouse lounge in the background.

Rough dark rocks flank a large stone plank bridge connecting two moss-covered banks of the pond.

Stone walks, some smoothly polished and others made from rough

stepping-stones or gravel, lead guests throughout the complex and link the

various parts of the garden. Water is ever present in the garden as an important

soothing element. From the guestrooms, the other two waterfalls, Shōfu no Taki

(Autumn Breeze Falls) and Baika no Taki (Plum Blossom Fragrance Falls), offer

both visual and auditory connections to water. Arrangements of rocks and plants

support the water elements in the garden, and carved stone basins, lanterns, and

benches add touches of the human hand in the naturalistic scenery. Terraces

extend out from the guestrooms toward or over the ponds, expanding the interior

space outward, while the long low overhanging eaves bring the garden inside

through large window openings. This careful manipulation of these inside-

outside spaces is fundamental to traditional Japanese architecture and is the key

to Masuno’s connection to traditional values and integration of nature for the

guests at Suifūso.

The strong geometry of a stone lantern set into the steep slope contrasts the softness of the moss in a view toward the annex from the Baika no Taki (Plum Blossom Fragrance Falls).

Shoji screens slide open to reveal a framed view from the traditionally constructed annex to the Baika no Taki (Plum Blossom Fragrance Falls).

A nobedan (stone walkway) and stepping-stones lead to the shihō hotoke tsukubai chōzubachi (four-sided Buddha water basin) set into the narrow stream.

The octagonal wood soaking tub affords views of a strip of the carefully manicured garden in the foreground and the sea in the distance.

The steps leading to the main garden combine formal and informal elements, with the edges constructed of finished stone and an infill of smaller rocks interspersed with larger flat rocks.

Large stepping-stones surrounded by moss lead through the garden to a thick stone-plank bridge.

The sliding shoji screens of the reception hall open to frame the view of the karesansui (dry) garden.

In a combination of traditional and contemporary styles, stepping-stones and a bridge of two shifted stone planks lead to the entrance to a guest room.

Simple lanterns create a serene atmosphere and provide light along the long nobedan (stone-paved walkway) on the way to the tea ceremony space.

Contrasting the light-colored floor, the dark stepping-stones and nobedan (stone-paved walkway) guide visitors to and from the teahouse koshikake machiai (waiting bench).

An enormous carved stone with roughly finished sides and a polished top surface appears to float within the tokonoma (decorative alcove).

Integrating contemporary and traditional elements, the reception room features a large tokonoma (decorative alcove) with a sculptural stone art piece as the focal point.