Japanese Garden Design
Marc P. Keane & Ohashi Haruzo
Tuttle, 2004 (1996)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
get a feeling of serenity simply from looking at pictures of Japanese gardens, and Ohashi Haruzo's color photos offer a lovely variety in
Japanese Garden Design
, as do author Marc P. Keane's elegant drawings. In his Foreword, Preston Houser makes an intriguing distinction between two types of tourists - '
' and '
' and tells us that Kyoto's gardens attract the former. He quotes Ezra Pound, '
Let the wind speak. That is Paradise
' and tells us that Marc P. Keane gives us tools '
for decyphering just what the wind has to say.
eane begins with the origins of Japanese gardens, from the nature of the volcanic archipelago itself, with '
mountains rising abruptly from the sea
', to the cultures of the people who inhabited these islands through history. He talks of the balance between '
natural and man-made beauty
', and of the derivation of use of stones and ponds in gardens from early animistic '
'. For '
', the author takes us on a tour of gardens from different periods: those of the Heian Aristocrats (mentioned often in the world's first novel,
The Tale of Genji
); of Zen Buddhism (including the famous Ryoanji contemplation garden); the Tea Garden (famous for its '
', tea ceremony); private Tsubo Gardens (vessels for '
', life energy); and Edo Stroll Gardens (laid out in broad open spaces). Each era is placed in a historical, cultural and architectural context. Garden design influences explained along the way include Geomancy ('
the Way of Yin-Yang
'), Buddhism, Bonsai, pilgrimage sites, and poetry.
he second part of the book covers '
' - '
' and '
' needed to create '
the harmony and subdued beauty that is most attractive in Japanese gardens.
' The quote of 17th century poet Matsuo Basho is most apt, '
Do not seek to emulate the old masters. / Seek what they sought.
' We are advised to learn from nature, balance between wildness and control, incorporate the seasons, involve personal expression, and consider maintenance. Techniques (such as the use of '
' and the route of the path) are offered, with numerous examples. Meanings of traditional garden elements (rocks, white sand, water, plants, sculpture, walls and fences) are explained. Keane ends with a brief perspective on where contemporary innovations might lead. At the back of the book is a useful timeline that places Japanese and world gardens in a historical world context, as well as a glossary of relevant Japanese terms.
apanese Garden Design
offers a breadth and depth of understanding that will help readers (whether tourists, professional or amateur gardeners) to begin to comprehend the '
awareness of nature and sensitivity to detail
' and the symbolic meaning that underlies the surface beauty of Japanese gardens.
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