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Books that can be of interest to the "Japanese" gardener

For your convenience we have added a page with popular and extraordinary English-language Japanese Garden books.

Go to our Japanese Garden Literature page to see the list of books that we used during Tsubo-en realization and for this website.

Some English-language Japanese garden books

"The New Zen Garden will help you design a Japanese garden perfect enough to make all your neighbors jealous."
Water Gardening Magazine.
Oguchi, longtime designer of Japanese gardens and author of more than 18 books on the subject in Japanese, offers English speakers both an overview and practical knowledge of this easily recognized but to many Westerners mysterious art form.

An exquisitely illustrated introduction to the style and its traditions. It explains how to use western plants and materials to achieve the minimalist look beloved by Japanese garden designers. "A well-written and beautifully illustrated reference book intended for a broad audience. It is a great book for becoming acquainted with the topic of Japanese gardens".
Landscape Architecture.

This book simplifies the complex principles adopted centuries ago by Buddhist monks, explores their aims in creating outdoor spaces along Zen principles, and reveals the meaning of the different elements and their juxtaposition. "For the gardener looking to create a peaceful sanctuary from hectic daily life, this book is an ideal guide."
Indianapolis Star, September, 2001.

"Practical advice and inspiring photos that can help you apply principles of Japanese Zen gardening."
The Charlotte Observer, September, 2001.

A landscape architect and garden designer working in Japan, Keane here offers a history of the Japanese garden over 20 centuries, showing how society, politics, religion, art, and the tea ceremony have contributed to the structure and elements of these beautiful retreats. He also includes chapters on design principles and techniques, explaining, for instance, how individual aspects such as rock, sand, plants, and bridges embody the symbolism of the gardens. A highly accessible flip reference for the novice gardener and first time visitor. Each of the 31 beautiful Kyoto gardens featured in this book embody the unique landscaping approaches and techniques of the periods when they were created, from the Heian and Muromanchi eras to Momoyama and Edo.

Landscape architect Marc Keane shows how Japanese gardens are both a microcosm of the natural universe and a clear expression of our humanity, mirroring how we think, worship, and organize our lives and communities. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the powerful mystique and dynamism of the Japanese stone garden, from their earliest use as props in animistic rituals, to their appropriation by Zen monks and priests to create settings conducive to contemplation and finally to their contemporary uses and meaning.

Almost every Japanese garden is influenced by the tea garden. Marc Peter Keane describes the history, design, and aesthetics of tea gardens, from T’ang China to the present day, with over one hundred stunning photographs, floor plans, and illustrations. The most extensive book on this genre ever published in English, The Japanese Tea Garden is a rich resource for garden lovers, landscape designers, and architects and anyone who admires the striking aesthetic of the Japanese garden. Over 150 full-color photographs introduce Japan’s most beautiful garden masterworks. Designed for viewing, meditation, strolling, and tea practice, the seventy-five gardens here include some of Japan’s best known, like Ryoan-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Meiji Jingu, and Koraku-en. Thoughtful image editing connects design ideas and themes, while a helpful introduction covers the history of garden art and design in Japan.

This book introduces the soul of Kyoto, the Japanese garden. Addressing variations through the different types of temple gardens, gardens of the imperial family and aristocratic households, and urban courtyard and other gardens, it offers an understanding of the compelling fascination that these gardens' beauty and philosophical depth inspire. The team behind this book excels at capturing and explaining the essential elements and techniques that distinguish Japanese gardens from those of other countries. The featured sites range from large feudal period gardens, temple gardens and private and countryside gardens to mountain flower gardens, tea gardens and gardens devoted to miniature bonsai.

This clear, authoritative work, fully illustrated with diagrams and photographs, elucidates much about the Japanese compositional sense. But at the same time it is a plea for a more holistic approach to landscape design, a recognition that a garden should conform to certain natural principles as well as meet the emotional needs of those who view it. The Japanese dry landscape garden has long attracted and long baffled viewers from the West. While museums across the United States are replicating these "Zen rock gardens" in their courtyards and miniature versions of the gardens are now office decorations, they remain enigmatic, their philosophical and aesthetic significance obscured. Reading Zen in the Rocks, the classic essay on the karesansui garden by French art historian François Berthier, has now been translated by Graham Parkes, giving English-speaking readers a concise, thorough, and beautifully illustrated history of these gardens.

A remarkable reflection of the Japanese garden, drawing on extracts from the Sakuteiki, an eleventh-century text that distills centuries of garden design, and pairing them with inspiring images from Sadao Hibi, one of Japan’s best-known photographers. The Inward Garden gives the reader a process for designing one's dream garden. Based on garden archtypes: the sea, the cave, the harbor, the promitory, the island, the mountain, and the sky, this book provides a structure for imagining and designing the garden of one's desires.

The highlight of the book is the 100 photographs of these tsuboniwa, snow overlying sand patterns; autumnal maple leaves; flowering cherry trees; lanterns, basins, fences; gardens featuring wisteria, azalea, hydrangea, Indian lilac, camellia, and daphne. Each photo is accompanied by an informative caption pointing out the outstanding characteristics of the garden in question. A practical guide to planning and constructing a Japanese garden at home. Step-by-step instructions explain every facet, from displaying plants and rocks to mastering drainage and lighting to creating bamboo fences and hedges.

You will learn how to lay stones and pathways and how to create intriguing sand patterns like the ones in Zen temple gardens. You will learn about Japanese lanterns, miniature pagodas, water basins, gates, and walls, and will be shown step by step how to make a bamboo lattice fence. Notes on the care of bamboo, moss, and grass are provided as are names of native North American plants and trees that can be substituted for conventional Japanese varieties. Schematic layout plans, detailed how-to explanations, and over 130 color photographs of Japanese gardens old and new give you ideas for endless variations. This text is a guide to constructing and cultivating one's own Japanese garden. The book provides the basics behind each design and structure, revealing the significance behind elements such as fences, rocks, buildings, and ornaments, as well as suggestions on what plants to use.

Written by a Japanese landscape architect who lived and worked overseas, this book offers detailed step-by-step advice on how to design and construct Japanese gardens in various environments, using only materials widely available in the West. This book demonstrates how to create a feeling of sanctuary, make tranquil spaces, arrange plants and ornaments etc., based on centuries-old garden design techniques.

"Mosko is a magician whose creations are spaces of great meditative power and innocence. His gardens reassure us that nature and mankind are, perhaps, really one after all."
Panayoti Keliatis, Curator of Plants, Denver Botanical Gardens.
Japan's noted garden photographer, Haruzo Ohashi, here demonstrates his knowledge of and sensitivity to this subject, and Japanese Gardens of the Modern Era, is an appropriate sequel to the classic landscapes of Japanese Garden. Here the time span is from the end of the Edo Period to present-day Showa. Some gardens are shown in seasonal variety, but all combine energy and serenity, the contrasts and harmonies of the design principles.

"Between these elegant covers readers are treated to some of Kyoto's most exquisite gardens that never open to the public."
Los Angeles Times.
A wide variety of gardens are beautifully photographed and presented: from those in shops, inns, restaurants, and teahouses, to gardens in many private homes. A total of 150 color images from 81 gardens bring the reader an unprecedented display of the flawless taste of Kyoto aesthetics.

Designed for the layman as well as the professional, this concise yet comprehensive guide provides both practical information and theoretical insights into the design of the Japanese garden. Kyoto, the capital of Japan for over one thousand years, possesses a richness of garden art without equal as a living chronicle of Japanese cultural history and environmental design. Following the introductory essays are individual entries for more than fifty temple and palace gardens. The text is augmented by an excellent selection of photographs, historical prints, maps and color plates. This is a soft cover and stripped version of the great book by Gunter Nitzske that was indispensable prior to and during the design of our garden.

See our Japanese Garden Literature page.

"Ketchell has compiled a realistic guide to constructing more than 20 outstanding Oriental garden features. Detailed directions combine with impeccable illustrations, and Ketchell's informed explanations of construction techniques, material requirements, tools, and equipment make even the most intricate design attainable."

Piet: I did not read the book but do have my doubts.
To truly carry out many of Gustafson's projects, the reader needs to be extremely handy, or planning on hiring a professional. It's also an ideal coffee-table book for the urban apartment dweller who needs to be reminded of peaceful spaces every once in a while, even when the "journey thus far" seems like a series of missed connections and splitting headaches.
Emily White (text refers to the Hardcover edition).

Classic study of gardening techniques and artistic principles involved. Includes analysis of five main garden types, plus important components: stones, lanterns, pagodas, ornamental water, etc. Over 50 sketches, layouts, and diagrams, plus 37 full-page plates, many based on early woodcuts. Also, 40 annotated full-page photographic plates of famous examples of Japanese landscaping and inspiring natural settings. A Japanese Touch for Your Garden is a concise introduction to the practical aspects of making a Japanese garden. Whether it's a spacious suburban lot, an office courtyard, or a tiny, inner-city backyard, here are hundreds of creative but time-honored ways to make maximum use of the available space. Readers will learn how to lay stones and pathways and how to create intriguing sand patterns like the ones in Zen temple gardens.

A very practical book in terms of explaining the history and principles behind a Japanese garden as well as the techniques needed to build one. It contains many illustrative photographs and schematic sketches. This illustrated volume looks at the history and philosophy of Japanese gardening explaining, without technical jargon, the reasons behind the aesthetic, as well as showing the practical aspects that go to make up this form of gardening. The introduction looks at the general principles of the Japanese garden and its history, before going on to look in detail at elements of these gardens such as rocks, water, plants and accessories (including fences, gates, lanterns, water basins and stepping stones). The author then shows how to create a Japanese, with practical hints and tips for design and construction. This is the main section of the book and is split into three parts: the courtyard garden, the strolling garden and the Zen garden. There are photographs to show step by step how each garden was created, with detailed captions that explain the process from design and planning to the finished garden.

This is one of the books that was of great help in designing our garden.
See our Japanese Garden Literature page.

Revised and thoroughly updated, Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art presents new, thought-provoking interpretations of the evolution of Japanese garden art. Its depth and much-needed emphasis on a practical context for garden creation will appeal to art and literary historians as well as scholars, students, and appreciators of garden and landscape art, Asian and Western.
The homes of the Japanese aristocracy illustrate the intimate relationship between traditional architecture and landscaping in this text.

The Garden as Architecture is the first book published in English to focus on the strikingly different interpretations made by these three countries, in their gardens and architecture, of the Buddhist, Confucianist, Taoist, and geomantic principles that have informed their cultures since ancient times. This pioneering study makes clear just how and why the approaches taken by neighboring countries were so different. "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.

A classic and almost a collector’s item. A key visual reference.

This book features exclusively photos of the interior courtyards, often with bamboo or groomed grave. Tatami-mats, some snow. Classic gardens, and more modern ones. This beautifully designed book is a guide to gardens in Japan and a revelation of their historical and cultural contexts. Offering a tour of over 120 gardens spanning east, west, north, and south in Japan, the authors provide a brief description, beautiful photographs, and directions for easy reference, interwoven with notes on personal experiences and travel in different seasons. A glossary of terms and a chronological summary of the gardens in different historical periods are included.

A guide to classic Japanese gardens that explores the traditional elements that give Japanese gardens their sensuous, spiritual and timeless qualities, inspiring a deeply felt response in the reader.
It is an excellent companion to take on any tour of Japanese gardens, and features a complete list of public Japanese gardens in the United States and Canada.
Living with Japanese Gardens shows how to capture and integrate an authentic Japanese aesthetic into any landscape plan. Japanese gardens affirm our connection with the natural world through the integration of the garden with the home, enriching the total living space. From the artistry with which the gardener places plants, rocks, and water with the viewer's perspective in mind, to the way in which a Japanese garden can make one feel safe and sheltered, their mystery and appeal are now wildly popular.

A Practical Guide to Japanese Gardening: An inspirational and practical guide to creating the Japanese garden style, from design options and materials to planting techniques and decorative features. "It's a great little book that presents not only beautiful spaces but also iterations on balancing contemporary life with tradition, Japan's tsubo niwa, that could be applied in other places."

Primarily designed by Japanese immigrants and their descendants as a way of maintaining ties to their motherland while assimilating into a new culture, these gardens of the Pacific West Coast offer a reflection of the complex role of Japanese culture in North America before, during, and after World War II.
Melba Levick's splendid color photography vibrantly captures the beauty of twenty gardens featured in this volume. Kendall Brown's authoritative text discusses the evolution of function and aesthetic, as well as patronage, of each of these gardens.
Designing and Creating Japanese Gardens explains the spiritual and philosophical symbolism of the Japanese garden and how the Western gardener can recreate its beauty and serenity. Among the topics are: history, philosophy, and spirituality; changing styles, designs, and fusui, from pavements and stepping stones to gateways and lanterns; plants, and planting, the importance of the cultivation, choice, positioning, and care of plants; water and structural features; and the gardens of Japan, with advice on gardening in the West. Inspiring as well as practical, Designing and Creating Japanese Gardens features more than 300 color photos and drawings.

"With 200 color photos, this attractive book offers instructions on designing and constructing a Japanese-style garden."
A Thousand Mountains, a Million Hills: Creating the Rock Work of Japanese Gardens.

An inspirational guide to designing and creating an authentic Japanese Garden with over 260 photographs. This book is meant for formal and casual students of Japanese gardens. Few people have had the opportunity to visit Japanese gardens over the course of several decades, as I have done, and to make photographs of their broad vistas and various details, learning from experience of their innate beauty. The text, photos, and captions herein contain a wealth of information about various aspects of Japanese gardens and architecture.

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Now for the first time, a color encyclopedia provides an authoritative overview of the Japanese garden flora. Garden Plants of Japan serves as a manual for horticultural advice, a source of inspiration for armchair gardeners, even a guidebook for travelers to Japan. Sumptuously illustrated, it explores the entire palette of plants cultivated in Japan, carefully noting which plants are authentically Japanese and which are transplants. This text contains everything the reader needs to know to select and maintain Japanese plants anywhere in the world, whether the garden is a sprawling suburban backyard or a city windowbox.

This book includes designs of traditional Japanese bamboo fences, as well as diagrams illustrating the basic techniques of creating a fence including splitting bending, joining and tying bamboo. Paired with step-by-step instructions, these designs will prove the perfect starting point for those who aspire to become a professional garden designer. The history of bamboo and its use is supported by 250 images which showcase the versatility and material aesthetics of the wood. More than twenty different fence designs described, all classified by type, from the common "four-eyed fence" (yotsume-gaki) to the expensive "spicebush fence" (kuromoji-gake), giving a good overview of the craft. There is also a glossary which has explanations of japanese fence names and structural terms, as well as technical drawings of the designs to better understand their complexity.

This highly regarded introduction to the material is now back in print, revised and updated. It still offers rich history, fascinating background, and great projects, but with more than 20 new images—making this the most attractive source on the “it” plant of the green movement. From weathering the plant and preventing insect damage to attaching, bending, flattening, finishing, and preserving the bamboo, this photo-filled introduction covers it all. More than 30 how-to projects include a curved garden handrail, low trellis for climbing plants, porch swing, and even an outdoor shower stall. Not specific to gardening but it will give an impression of the possibilities.
Filled with terrific gift-giving ideas, one-day projects to do with children, and practical home improvement projects. How to Build with Bamboo welcomes you to the wonderful world of bamboo. Each page shows you how you can bring this ancient plant, with a long tradition as a building material, into your own home. Make a lamp, chest of drawers, or even a candleholder and jewelry box.

Filled with elegant designs and clever tips, A Japanese Touch for Your Home offers bold and exciting ideas for remodeling your home or redecorating your apartment. The author, architect Koji Yagi, explains the basic elements of Japanese interior design and shows you how to use them. Japan is often called the land of flowers. This book gives an account of those flowers that occur in the country which are most remarkable for their beauty and profusion and which are most typically Japanese. There are also pages on landscape gardening.

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