Sakuteiki: Visions of the Japanese Garden: A Modern Translation of Japan's Gardening Classic (Tuttle Classics)
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Learn the art of Japanese gardening with this classic, fascinating text.
The Sakuteiki, or "Records of Garden Making," was written nearly one thousand years ago. It is the oldest existing text on Japanese gardening—or any kind of gardening—in the world. In this edition of the Sakuteiki the authors provide an English-language translation of this classic work and an introduction to the cultural and historical context that led to the development of Japanese gardening. Central to this explanation is an understanding of the sacred importance of stones in Japanese culture and Japanese garden design.
Written by a Japanese court noble during the Heian period (794-1184), the Sakuteiki includes both technical advice on gardening—much of which is still followed in today's Japanese gardens—and an examination of the four central threads of allegorical meaning, which were integral features of Heian-era garden design. For those seeking inspiration to build a rock garden or just better understand the Japanese stone garden, the Sakuteiki is an enduring classic.
evident in gardens as presented in the Sakuteiki. By examining each of these interpretations, we hope to set the stage for a deeper understanding of this ancient treatise as well as to offer, to gardeners and garden designers alike, possibilities for enhancing their own work. Footnotes 1. The Sakuteiki is the oldest treatise the authors know of that addresses gardening as an aesthetic art although there are older treatises that address agricultural-estate gardening, for instance, those of Pliny
expected to commence in AD 1052 when Tachibana no Toshitsuna, the purported author of the Sakuteiki, was an impressionable twenty-four years old. While we know that mujō and mappō were concerns of the Heian period, again, we see no reference to them in the Sakuteiki, and like the absence of poetic comment or any mention of Amida’s Pure Land, it shows that the gardens of the Heian aristocrats were highly complex creations. There was no one uniform style that was consistent to gardens throughout
that Buddhist Trinity arrangements shall be made with standing stones while arrangements in the “shape of piled boxes” shall use horizontal ones. IX. Setting Stones (p. 182) Not all groups of three stones in the garden were Buddhist Trinities as the passage above suggests. The “piled-box” type, which is modeled after the kanji shina, 品, meaning “goods,” was done for aesthetic reasons. The classic Buddhist Trinity stone arrangement includes a central, upright stone with two stones of lesser
lord of the household. Annex Halls, tai no ya, were arranged to the east, west, and north of the Main Hall to provide living quarters for family and servants as well as places for storage, cooking, and the like. These auxiliary buildings were connected by roofed corridors, suiwatadono (referred to as Breezeways17 in this book), that provided sheltered access amongst them. The rectangluar spaces enclosed between the various halls and the corridors that connected them were often used to create
pond edges and riverbanks: 鋒 honzo the place of origin during a direction switch (kata tagae); usually one’s main residence: 本所 alt. honjo I ike pond; often the central feature of a garden, punctuated by islands; built partly for displaying festive boats: 池 imi see mono imi ishi garni Demon Stone; literally “Stone God”; a garden stone that causes evil: 石神 ishi no kowan “request” of the stone; a term revealing the animistic mentality of Heian-period gardeners who believed garden stones