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Required Reading: The Japanese Garden by Sophie Walker

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Required Reading: The Japanese Garden by Sophie Walker

February 5, 2018

Last month, I bought the perfect gift: a new book out from Phaidon called The Japanese Garden for my Japanese garden enthusiast husband. The cover is an automatic candidate for Instagram, but its contents—“an exploration spanning 800 years of the art, essence, and enduring impact of the Japanese garden”—are most superlative.

Author Sophie Walker walks the reader through the elements (including reflective surfaces and sculpture) and design (courtyards, Zen principles, dry gardens) of Japanese gardens. Dispersed through different visual spreads are new essays from architects Tadao Andō and John Pawson, and artists such as Lee Ufan and Anish Kapoor. And particularly useful for planting purposes is an appendix on the trees and shrubs, perennials and herbaceous plants, and ferns and mosses of Japan. Here’s a look inside.

The Japanese Garden is \$69.95 at Phaidon. (You can also find it on Amazon.)
Above: The Japanese Garden is $69.95 at Phaidon. (You can also find it on Amazon.)
Walker starts with the early history of Japanese gardens and their lasting impact today. &#8\2\20;&#8\2\16;Everything you do in making a garden should be a containment of the heart,&#8\2\17; said the \20th-century Rinzai Zen Buddhist nun the Venerable Myoko-ni (\19\2\1-\2007).&#8\2\2\1;
Above: Walker starts with the early history of Japanese gardens and their lasting impact today. “‘Everything you do in making a garden should be a containment of the heart,’ said the 20th-century Rinzai Zen Buddhist nun the Venerable Myoko-ni (1921-2007).”
The Fushimir Inari Taisha, a shrine in Kyoto, from 7\1\1, the Nara Period.
Above: The Fushimir Inari Taisha, a shrine in Kyoto, from 711, the Nara Period.
The gardens of one of Japan&#8\2\17;s most important Rinzai Zen monasteries, designed in \1\253, the Kamakura Period.
Above: The gardens of one of Japan’s most important Rinzai Zen monasteries, designed in 1253, the Kamakura Period.
The Daisen-in (Great Hermit Temple) in Kyoto &#8\2\20;unfurls an epic myth told through stones, planting and gravel,&#8\2\2\1; says Walker. &#8\2\20;Gardens have the power to evoke; every element here is such that it becomes possible for raked gravel to emulate water and for rocks to take on the stature of mountains&#8\230;&#8\2\2\1;
Above: The Daisen-in (Great Hermit Temple) in Kyoto “unfurls an epic myth told through stones, planting and gravel,” says Walker. “Gardens have the power to evoke; every element here is such that it becomes possible for raked gravel to emulate water and for rocks to take on the stature of mountains…”

N.B: If you’re inspired to design your own Japanese-style garden (or even a desktop version of a Zen garden), see:

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