My comments:

This is one of the first Japanese gardening books I came upon that described some of the underlying approaches in creating a Japanese garden.  As such, it will always be one of my favorites.  I found the combination of sketches, images, and descriptions of gardens that were scaled to fit homes that seemed within reach of a person to be very inspiring for me.

The balance of aesthetic approaches and  hands on do it yourself information helped give me the confidence to start trying things for myself.

Favorite areas I really like this book:

  • The characteristics of a Japanese garden with respect to Subtle, Subdued, and elegant. It’s really nice overview thinking about the feelings associated Japanese Gardens.
  • There are over 30 varieties of gardens described with wonderful sketches, and layouts of gardens with many photos of each.  Each of those garden layouts having associated images of the gardens referenced from within the overall garden plan with directional arrows to show how they relate to the overall garden layout.  It is wonderful.

I was quite happy that before I began reading this book I was already familiar with Secret Teachings In The Art of Japanese Gardening  - Transmission of the art ~ Learning process Pgs. 40, 54. Knowing that my first attempts would lead me on a path until I had “a sufficient level of experience”. The Japanese expression “make it your own” conveys  the importance of deep internalization of knowledge when a student is seeking to master one of the traditional Japanese arts”.

Details that I might upload or comment on more in the future:

  • From Page 13: refined-shibusa-style , senzai, wabi:  “The role of Zen devotees in the development of the Japanese garden is confined to the creation of a refined-shibusa-style that offers recluse from the detested complexities of ordinary life. From their earliest history devoted to somber, elegant gardens rather than to’ gorgeous, ornamental ones, the Japanese people have long been fond of bringing home from mountains and fields plants and grasses to set out in the fronts of their houses in what was called a senzai, or garden plot in front of the front yard. With passing ages, the taste for simplicity gradually deepened to become what is called today wabi, a gentle, somber kind of beauty. Not limited to the followers of the Zen sect,the appreciation for the refined and subdued extended to all Japanese people”
  • From page 14: In general, three aesthetic terms apply to the gradations of depth of refinement in gardens: Somber, Subtle, and Elegantt.  ” reds and blues of the surface of a stone weathered by countless ages of wind and rain and covered with moss are draped in a veil of mystical loveliness cast by Nature herself. Further concealing the gentle loveliness of such stones in the foliage of trees and in grasses weaves the spell of mystery essential to Japanese gardens. In general, three aesthetic terms apply to the gradations of depth of refinement in gardens: somber, subtle, and elegant. The somber beauty of wabi  results from a thorough application of the principles of shibusa : the subtle and mystic arise when showy and gorgeous elements are partly concealed by a veil of mystery. Certain elements in Japanese gardens, however, though completely exposed, never become flashy, but fall somewhere midway between splendor and somberness. These last elements, which I call elegant, include lattices and windows with bamboo dividers and many kinds of plants, rushes, and areas of swept sand in gardens where simple shapes and colors are prized.”
  • Pg 15 and 16 Stone Moods  Leading into the brief description of emotions moods associated with various stone shapes was pleasing to relate to, however it seems much more context was needed by myself.. so I have continued to explore this area
  • From Page 33: The apportioning of space some good basics thinking about a Japanese garden in a small, residential plot
  • I think my very favorite gardens this book is probably Page 71: Using Sand to Symbolize ad Calm Body of Water, Page 73: Gardens for Limited Spaces, Page 87: Gardens for the backs of houses, the comma garden
  • Pgs 126- 130 Many concepts to introduce the beginner to Visual and Spatial construction including dynamic and visual balance.  Stable and unstable in relation to spatial mood, emotionally stable and unstable stone settings.  Again, this is a deep area so I have continued to explore it in other ways.


Purchase (Your Amazon purchase from this link benefits Japanese Gardening Organization):
      Japanese Gardening Hints by katsuo Saito

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