The Gardens of Japan

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This eye-catching book presents Japan's finest gardens as interpreted by leading photographers and Teiji Itoh, preeminent spokesman for Japan's magnificent garden tradition. Beginning with early agricultural and religious practices, Professor Itoh describes how the major garden types-from microcosmic stone-and-gravel compositions and tea-ceremony settings to spacious landscapes for strolling-evolved from a rich mingling of native and foreign influences. While never totally rejecting outside influence, the ...

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Overview

This eye-catching book presents Japan's finest gardens as interpreted by leading photographers and Teiji Itoh, preeminent spokesman for Japan's magnificent garden tradition. Beginning with early agricultural and religious practices, Professor Itoh describes how the major garden types-from microcosmic stone-and-gravel compositions and tea-ceremony settings to spacious landscapes for strolling-evolved from a rich mingling of native and foreign influences. While never totally rejecting outside influence, the Japanese nevertheless willfully misinterpreted rigid Chinese models to suit their own tastes and infused Zen gardens with a sensitivity to material born of their native Shinto animist faith. Even today, garden designers responding to new building styles and ways of living still preserve the impeccable sense of design and intimacy with nature that are the hallmark of the Japanese tradition.

Each page is packed with information, anecdote, and every kind of illustration-maps, plans, sketches, reproductions from ancient books, and photographs of great gardens and historical figures. One chapter is wholly devoted to Kyoto's famous Moss Temple, while another visits modern-day temple, tea, and country gardens to offer a rare look beyond the private gates and into the hearts of people who actually enjoy these gardens in their daily lives. There is an examination of the important elements-stones, lanterns, pathways, basins, plantings, fences-and at the end a special appendix gives Teiji Itoh's personal choice of gardens to visit in Japan, including addresses, descriptions, and hints on when to go and what to look for.

The Gardens of Japan is by far the most delightful and informative volume in the field. With 96 pages of superb color, it is in every detail a fitting celebration of nature's beauty, joy, and meaning.

The present format is a slightly reduced version of the original published in 1984 under the same title, but in almost every other detail it is an exact replica.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is beautifully illustrated with many lavish, full color spreads.... The text covers all aspects of the Japanese garden...." -John Talbot, Shakkei: The Quarterly Journal of The Japanese Garden Society

"Not only a lesson in Japanese gardening, but also...some of the best gardens Japan has to offer." -American Horticulturist

American Horticulturist
Not only a lesson in Japanese gardening, but also...some of the best gardens Japan has to offer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770023216
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 11.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

TEIJI ITOH is former president of Kogakuin University in Tokyo and has written extensively on Japanese gardens and architecture. His other books available in English include The Elegant Japanese House, Imperial Gardens of Japan, Space and Illusion in the Japanese Garden, and Traditional Japanese Houses.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2001

    Beautiful Niwas

    Anyone who has ever enjoyed a Japanese niwa (loosely translated as ¿garden¿ in English) has come away with a sense of peace, timelessness, and natural order. Relatively few have enjoyed niwas in the presence of someone who can explain the significance of the niwa. The Gardens of Japan fills in that missing knowledge very well with an excellent, brief history of the niwa, including the religious and agricultural influences. The niwa¿s design in part deals with the Chinese discipline of Fengshui, whereby the natural geography determines where are appropriate places to build. The Japanese took this concept, and translated its elements into trees so that an artificial geography can be built to provide the same elements anywhere. As you will agree, this is a most practical solution to creating harmony. The gravel-spread zones have a significance as places where gods descend. Despite these artifices, the purpose is to make the plants and stones appear unaltered by humans. Natural outcroppings are studied to get just the right look in the niwa. These insights are very helpfully provided by the author, who is a former president of Kogakuin University in Tokyo. This edition of the book is slightly reduced in size from the well-known original English translation in 1984, that has been so widely admired. Although I would have liked to see larger pages (especially for the black-and-white photographs), this reduction does not significantly detract from this classic. The Gardens of Japan creates a nice balance between looking at the elements of the niwa (design, stones, water, and plants) and its holistic existence (interaction with the sky as a natural dome, integration with the building spaces, spiritual meanings, and significance for daily life in Japan). Naturally, you will find some of Japan¿s finest niwas gorgeously portrayed in two-page layouts in full color here. My favorites included the upper villa of the Shugakuin Detached Palace (¿cloud-filled sky dome is part of the garden . . . an attempt to expand the garden to almost cosmic proportions¿), Temple Sanpo-in garden, Kuwata residence, Furumine Shrine, Tenryu-ji, Hokoku-ji, Ichitani residence, and Rokuon-ji. Many other gardens are captured in a few images, many in black and white to capture their design elements. Should you have an opportunity to visit Japan, the book also has a helpful map that locates each niwa. Where I live, the winters are cold and often snowy. To be able to pull out this book and commune with the gorgeous vistas of tranquillity during ideal weather will add to my sense of ¿inward mutability and interpermeability.¿ Where can you find peace? Do you go there often enough? How can you get more renewal from these experiences? Feel the timeless truth all around you, let it imbue you . . . and relax when you take up your daily tasks in the future. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise

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