The Japanese Gardens


Although each of the following sources is worth consulting, those that are starred are of particular importance to anyone making a serious study of Japanese gardens. Because this site was designed for undergraduates who have little or no knowledge of the Japanese language, we have restricted the list to English-language texts, or texts in English translation.

Berthier, Francois. Reading Zen in the Rocks: The Japanese Dry Landscape Garden. Translated and with a philosophical essay by Graham Parkes. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.
A wide-ranging and largely subjective interpretation based on the author's belief that the principles of Zen Buddhism lie at the heart of historic dry gardens.

*Bring, Mitchell and Josse Wayembergh. Japanese Gardens: Design and Meaning. McGraw-Hill, 1988.
This book contains wonderfully accurate and detailed plans and cross sections of the eleven gardens it discusses, and includes sections on Chinese and indigenous sources and influences, as well as principles of design and construction. It has only a limited number of color plates, unfortunately, and its many black and white photographs are small and poorly printed. For its superb drawings and plans, however, it is an important addition to one's library.

Cave, Philip. Creating Japanese Gardens. Rutland, VT. and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1993.

Conder, Josiah. Landscape Gardening in Japan. Reprint. New York: Dover, 1981.

Davidson, A. K. The Art of Zen Gardens. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1983.

*Earle, Joe (ed.) Infinite Spaces: The Art and Wisdom of the Japanese Garden. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2000
A beautiful book with photographs by Sado Hibi alternating with passages from the Sakuteiki.

Hayakawa, Masao. The Garden Art of Japan. Trans. Richard Gage. Heibonsha Survey of Japanese Art, vol. 28. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill and Heibonsha, 1973.

Inaji, Toshiro and Pamela Virgilio. The Garden as Architecture. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1998.

Itoh, Teiji. The Japanese Garden: an Approach to Nature. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972.

Itoh, Teiji. Space and Illusion in the Japanese Garden. Trans. Ralph Friedrich and Masajiro Shimamura. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill and Tankosha, 1973.

Itoh, Teiji. Imperial Gardens of Japan. Second edition. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill and Tankosha, 1978.

*Itoh, Teiji. The Gardens of Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1984.
A useful book, beautifully illustrated with color and black and white photographs and plans. It also contains information on opening hours, fees, addresses, and other information useful to anyone planning to visit the gardens. The text is somewhat uneven. It goes into great detail about such things as early impressions of Saiho-ji, but it slights other major gardens, and its interpretations are highly conjectural, often based on anecdotal accounts of the lives and statements of early garden designers. Nevertheless, a valuable addition to any library.

Journal of Japanese Gardening.
A well-produced and well-illustrated bi-monthly publication. Published by Douglas Roth, it is directed primarily to gardeners, but it often contains features of interest for anyone concerned with Japanese gardens.

Keane, Marc. The Art of Setting Stones. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 2002.
Eight meditative essays on the experience of Japanese gardens.

*Keane, Marc. Japanese Garden Design. Rutland, VT. and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1996.
This well-written and beautifully illustrated book does not deal extensively with individual gardens, but it is a prime source for the historical context of the subject, the aesthetic principles involved in Japanese garden design, and a careful definition of terms. Of all the monographs on Japanese gardens, Keane's book is one of the most sensitive and articulate introductions to the subject.

Keswick, Maggie. The Chinese Garden. London: Academy Editions, 1986. [second revised edition].
Katsuhiko, Mizuno. Masterpieces of Japanese Garden Art. 3 vols. Kyoto: Kyoto Shoin Co., 1992. Wonderful photographs; minimal text.

*Kuck, Loraine. The World of the Japanese Garden: From Chinese Origins to Modern Landscape Art. Second Edition. New York and Tokyo: Walker and Weatherhill, 1968.
A landmark study, and although it too often surrenders to the Western notion that all Japanese gardens are filled with symbolic references and cryptic allusions, it is still a valuable source.

*Kuitert, Wybe. Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art. . Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 2002.
A scholarly study based on a close reading of historical texts. Very useful for an understanding of the Sakuteiki, the connections between poetry and garden design, the influence of Song Dynasty landscape painting, historical contexts, and the evolution of Japanese aesthetics. It contains a very complete bibliography and copious footnotes, and this revised and updated version of his original text of 1988 contains the index that was missing in the earlier edition.

*Levy-Yamamori, Ran, and Gerard Taaffe. Garden Plants of Japan. Portland and Cambridge: Timber Press, 2004.
An exhaustive and lavishly illustrated survey of the plants and trees found in the gardens of Japan. The text includes the Japanese name for each species, conditions of growth, geographic distribution, and full descriptions of every element. An indispensable addition to the library of anyone interested in Japanese gardens.

Newsom, Samuel. A Thousand Years of Japanese Gardens. Tokyo: Tokyo News Service, 1953.
[A facsimile reprint was published by Apollo Publishing of Poughkeepsie, New York, c. 1988.]

Newsom, Samuel. Japanese Garden Construction. Tokyo: Domoto, Kumagawa and Perkins, 1939.

Newsom, Samuel. A Japanese Garden Manual for Westerners: Basic Design and Construction. Tokyo: Tokyo News Service, 1965.

*Nitschke, Günter. Japanese Gardens: Right Angle and Natural Form. Köln: Benedict Taschen Verlag, 1993.
Like Keane's Japanese Garden Design, Nitschke's study is a beautifully illustrated and contextual study of the principles and history of Japanese gardens. Unfortunately, it has no index and only a very limited glossary.

Ohashi, Haruzo. The Japanese Garden: Islands of Serenity. Tokyo: Graphic- sha, 1997.

Rambach, Pierre and Susanne Rambach. Gardens of Longevity in China and Japan. New York: Skira and Rizzoli, 1987.

Richie, Donald and Alexandre Georges. The Temples of Kyoto . Rutland, VT and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1995.

*Slawson, David. Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens. Tokyo:Kodansha International, 1987.
An extremely useful and comprehensive study of the aesthetics and design principles of the Japanese garden. Slawson is both a scholar and a designer of gardens, and his book is indispensable to anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject.

Tachibana, Toshitsuna. Sakuteiki: The Book of the Garden. Trans. Shigemaru Shimoyama. Tokyo: Town and City Planners, 1976.

*Takei, Jiro, and Marc Peter Keane. Sakuteiki: Visions of the Japanese Garden. Rutland, VT. and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 2001.
A translation of the classic Japanese treatise on gardening, with commentary and contextual analysis by two of the leading scholars in this field. For an understanding of Heian aesthetics and the theoretical roots of the Japanese garden, this recently published work is critical.

*Treib, Marc, and Ron Herman. A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2003.
An expanded and improved version of the original 1980 edition. Highly recommended for visitors to Kyoto, since it contains good maps and information on visiting hours, whether photography is permitted, etc. Its introductory pages not only prepare one for a visit to individual gardens, but also provide an excellent survey of Japanese history, religions, and cultural patterns. A "must read" for anyone beginning their study of the historic gardens of Kyoto.

Usui, Shiro. A Pilgrim's Guide to Forty-Six Temples. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1990.
Provides useful information on visiting procedures and locations, including guides to public transportation.

Yoshida, Tetsuro. The Japanese House and Garden. Trans. Marcus Sims. New York: Praeger, 1955.

*Young, David and Michiko. The Art of the Japanese Garden. North Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing, 2005.
This very recent publication is a must for anyone interested in Japanese gardens, with extensive historical background, explanations of elements, elegant reconstructions, and beautiful photographs.

Films, CDs and Video Tapes

Grilli, Peter. Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden. Video Tape. Smithsonian Video Collection, produced in association with Kajima Vision, Tokyo, 1992.
Includes segments on Saiho-ji, Shugaku-in, Katsura, and Sogetsu Hall.

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