Teachings of the garden

Conversations in Japan


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In con­tem­pla­ting Japa­ne­se gar­dens, it beco­mes clear that the­se can­not be view­ed as iso­la­ted from other arts or social pro­ces­ses. Wit­hin them, approa­ches of the most dif­fe­rent pro­ven­an­ces con­nect, all of which seek to achie­ve a balan­ced arran­ge­ment of the ele­ments which com­pri­se the spi­ri­tu­al and phy­si­cal worlds. Thus, the Japa­ne­se gar­den appears as neit­her whol­ly con­tem­pla­ti­ve nor pure­ly aes­the­tic, but rather as a social com­pen­di­um that might tell of the order which is under­ly­ing a socie­ty. The gar­den is a Gesamt­kunst­werk, as well as an app­lied philosophy.

An ele­venth-cen­tu­ry Japa­ne­se gar­de­ning manu­al was the ori­gin of Caro­la Platzek’s stu­dies which explo­re the histo­ry of Japa­ne­se gar­dens. The essence of the Saku­tei­ki pre­vails today: the pre­cise obser­va­ti­on of natu­re in order to design a gar­den accord­ing to its sur­roun­dings. The Vien­nese cul­tu­ral rese­ar­cher and art his­to­ri­an con­ver­ses with gar­de­ners, gar­den his­to­ri­ans, aca­de­mics and rese­ar­chers, as well as Bud­dhist and Shin­tō priests; to illu­mi­na­te how they work with tra­di­tio­nal and modern con­cepts which inform gar­den arran­ge­ment and design in Japan. The book intro­du­ces the rea­der to the­se fasci­na­ting con­cepts and their inter­con­nec­tions, which inclu­de: ori­en­ta­tio­nal princi­ples such as the theo­ries of har­mo­ny and spa­ti­al con­scious­ness; the five ele­ments and the four car­di­nal points; aes­the­tic para­digms as for­mu­la­ted in the Way of Tea, or in the gen­re of the Eight Views; and waka and hai­ku poetry.

Con­ver­sa­ti­ons with Hiro­ma­sa Ama­sa­ki, Mako­to Akasa­ka, Myō­kyū Fuji­sa­to, Ken­ji Kaji, Tomo­ki Kato, Yasu­hi­ko Mita­ni, Masa­to­shi Nis­hi­ya­ma, Eiichi Noda, Syu­chi Oguni, Kei­ko Tori­goe, Zen­tarō Yagasaki

Trans­la­ted from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Sophie Ger­tru­de Strohmeier












numerous color illustrations


Conversations in Japan

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