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In Full Circle: The Japanese-Style Garden as a Work of Art in Progress
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Last Updated: 10/1/2001

We often get requests for information on constructing one's own 'Japanese Garden'. Considering the diversity and complex history of these works, I'm pretty much against the idea of a single, monolithic entity called the 'Japanese Garden'. I also do not consider myself a designer of such gardens and am not qualified to dispense advice on their construction. I do realize, however, that many people are interested in constructing something in this style. I have therefore put together a bibliography of books to read on designing one's own garden.

Many of the writers listed below will make the same point I am making about Japanese gardens here. The gardens of Japan are not about the objects or features in them. The stereotypical stone lantern and raked gravel do not make a garden in this mode. On the other hand, I do think one can learn much about the principles of good design through the agency of the gardens of Japan. I would encourage those who are interesting in constructing a 'Japanese garden' to approach it as an application of the principles of design inherent in these gardens rather than simply learning how to set up a stone basin or clip a pine tree.

The historical gardens of Japan were very much reflections of the societies by which they were created. Use this as an opportunity to think about how your garden might re-present your culture and how you fit into it. One could easily apply the principles of Japanese garden design to a place that is about computers, television and the nuclear family. The best gardens in any culture have always been landscapes of the mind, going beyond their nature as objects arranged in an enclosure.

Please note that the below list is simply a guide and does not imply an endorsement of the books in it. If you have found other books to be useful, please let me know. I will consider adding them to the list.

  1. Bibliographic References
  2. Merchants and Suppliers
  3. Designers
  4. Forum
  5. 'How To' Articles on other web sites

Cave, Philip. Creating Japanese Gardens. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1993.

Davidson, A.K. The Art of Zen Gardens: A guide to their creation and enjoyment, Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, 1983, ISBN: 0-08477-254

Gustafson, Herb. The Art of Japanese Gardens: Designing and Making Your Own Peaceful Space. Sterling Publications, 1999.

Japanese Garden Research Association, Create Your Own Japanese Garden (Japanische Gartengestaltung) (German and English), Dusseldorf, Germany: Books Nippan, 1996 ISBN: 3-910052-63-0 (Japanese version in 1995 by Graphic-sha) - lots of photos, measured drawings, and examples.

Jonas, Patricia, e

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