A unique exploration of the art and beauty of the Japanese garden, spanning 800 years of fascinating cultural history

The Japanese Garden is an engaging exploration of the Japanese garden, examining over 90 beautiful gardens and spanning 1200 years of stunning design. This gorgeous volume offers fresh insight into the art, culture and aesthetics of the Japanese garden, through a carefully curated collection of Shinto shrines, Buddhist Temple gardens, Imperial gardens, Tea gardens and contemporary urban designs.

Sophie Walker, expert garden designer and maker, explores how the Japanese garden has been used as a tool for religious, philosophical and poetic contemplation for hundreds of years. Taking the reader on a journey of discovery, Walker places the garden in the broader historical context of a rich cultural heritage, while examining the enduring impact of this Japanese garden art.

Walker pursues the enigmatic, abstract qualities of the Japanese garden, investigating how the genre frames complex conceptual propositions with visual clarity. Refusing a single reading the Japanese garden challenges the viewer to engage with its many components to better understand it’s enigmatic qualities. In The Japanese Garden, Walker elucidates this and investigates key subjects relating to its design, which include elements like the path, reflections on still water, the use of borrowed scenery and the symbolism of the courtyard garden, alongside broader aesthetic concepts such as wabi sabi and mitate, Zen Buddhism, and the symbolism of plants.

The Japanese Garden is organised in thematic chapters designed to investigate these elements of Japanese garden design – including ‘The Way, Body and Mind’ ‘Beauty, Terror and Power’ and ‘The Poetry of Plants’. Each chapter begins with a fascinating personal essay on the philosophy surrounding an individual component of Japanese design followed by a survey of stunning gardens which elegantly illustrate the concept being explored. These gardens vary from ancient Shinto shrines and Imperial gardens to contemporary Zen installations and private gardens, including Kenroku-en (Garden of the Six Sublimities) in Kanazawa, Ryōan-ji (Temple of the Dragon at Peace) in Kyoto, Ani Jinja (Ani Shrine) in Okayama, Katsura Imperial Villa, Kamigamo Jinjain in Kyoto, Tairyu-sanso in Sakyo-ku and Saihō-ji (Moss garden) in Kyoto. Each is accompanied by a short text about the garden providing historical and design context. While captivating, original essays by leading artists, architects and cultural experts: Tadao Ando, Tatsuo Miyajima, John Pawson, Lee Ufan, Marcus de Sautoy, Tan Twan Eng and Anish Kapoor are interspersed throughout the book adding unique perspectives to this fascinating field.

Expertly curated with exquisite photography, archival photos and illustrations by respected figures such as David Hockney, Dayanita Singh, Richard Long, Anish Kapoor, Christo, Dan Pearson, Steven Holl, Yves Klein, Isamu Noguchi, Dan Pearson and David Chipperfield, many published here for the first time. The Japanese Garden is a striking volume featuring a glossary of important Japanese terms and concepts and a specially commissioned photographic appendix of the key plants used in the Japanese garden, both native and long cultivated, from trees and shrubs to ferns and moss.

With its unique blend of beautiful imagery and thought-provoking texts, The Japanese Gardenoffers visual inspiration for all those who appreciate the significance of art and design. Sophie Walker’s passionate writing contains a poetic eloquence that will inspire a fresh appreciation for the profound mystery and grace of the Japanese garden. Handsomely designed, this exquisite title is perfect for those who wish to have their eyes opened to the cultural wonder that is the Japanese garden.