- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: TASCHEN GmbH; Taschen's 25th anniversary ed edition (25 Sept. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 3822830445
- ISBN-13: 978-3822830444
- Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 2.4 x 30.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 840,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Japanese Gardens Hardcover – 25 Sep 2007
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"This extraordinary book provides a detailed, engrossing history of Japanese gardens with separate chapters for each historical era. It is beautifully illustrated with color photos as well as historical black and white." - Suite 101, New York" --Suite 101, New York
About the Author
Gunter Nitschke was born in Berlin. He acquired degrees in architecture, town planning and classical and modern Japanese. He taught East Asian architecture and urbanism at Princeton University and MIT, later at UCLA and California State Politechnic University at Pomona and at Kyoto Seiko University in Japan. Gunter Nitschke is author of numerous critical essays and books.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is lavishly illustrated, and written with passion, insight and empathy for the Japanese attitude to the natural world and their sense of beauty, and with a knowledge of the history of the tradition of garden creation, and notion of garden as art.
He describes the Japanese reverence for the randomness of nature, alongside their idea of beauty emanating from cultivation of the natural. "These two ways of perceiving beauty - as natural accident and as the perfection of man-made type - are not, to my mind, mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite: it is their simultaneous cultivation and conscious superimposition that best characterizes the traditional Japanese perception of beauty"; two opposites - random and imposed order, complimenting each other, like Chinese principles of Yin and Yang. "Each loses vibrancy if taken separately from the other".
We sense the elevation of garden to sacred space, and its aesthetic role as oasis, bringing an intimation of the natural world beyond.
Japanese gardens are more or less consistent in style, although diverse in form, something that derives from the fact that they capture and reflect the natural environment on which they are based, utilizing three basic elements: rocks, water and plants, to recreate the essence of real landscapes, in a subtle balance between the natural and contrived.
This book offers a comprehensive survey of the history, evolution, influences, cultivation methods, cultural and religious significance and variety of forms.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gorgeous book essentially gives an overview of the history and elements of the Japanese garden, but it's easy to get lost right in the first chapter.
It's written by an academic (with impressive credentials and experience in Japan and the far east) and the text is a bit dense. It's not aimed at the average reader or even an adventurous gardener. I found myself going online way too much to get different definitions of the various Japanese political periods just to make it through a chapter about "Rocks in the Sand" or "Path and Goal." And I studied under one of the greatest scholars of Japanese art as an undergrad. So this book is not really for the casual reader (unless all you want to do is look at some pretty pictures).
Although editorial decisions may have been made to keep the text solely the author's, more informative photo captions could have been a way to tie text to illustrations. Many perfect photographs of vantages in various gardens and nice sketches from various sources are not enough to bring the text alive. And there are not enough reproductions of the artworks to which author refers so much.
The layout is beautifully balanced, just gorgeous, as one comes to expect from Taschen. But I don't think the editor really read and understood the text when choosing the illustrations. Here we have expert examinations of the history and aesthetic of the Japanese garden, and yet the illustrations fall short of bringing the man's knowledge alive for the reader.
There are some pretty good appendixes (bibliography and glossary of garden terms, for example) and also two maps of where Kyoto & greater Japan gardens are located. But there's no timeline of Japan's eras, which should be essential for the mere amateur of Japanese gardens who approaches the book as a chance to learn just a bit more about the aesthetic. So you end up with a pretty intellectual text and a lot of sumptuous pictures that don't marry very well. A bit of a challenge if all you're after is some inspiration or a good itinerary for visiting the best Japanese gardens.
The section on Ryoan-ji (where THAT incredible rock garden is found) matches well with illustrations, but there are pretty much no other sections devoted to a single garden and illustrated so completely. Although there are some very general maps of gardens' locations in the back, you won't find streets or addresses indicated. And worst of all, there is no index! This is not a guide book.
Nitsche might very well view the book's propensity to get a reader lost as an exercise in Zen.
An excellent source!
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