What kind of fool am I?

gregoryjohn(z4b/IL)June 21, 2004

After reading a couple of dozen books and especially the posts here I am beginning to feel a little foolish for trying to build a Japanese Garden. I am not Japanese. So I ask. What kind of fool am I?


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Jando_1(Zone 5 IL)

Hey Greg,

The same kind of fool so many of us are. You don't have to be Japanese to appreciate and learn the art of Japanese Gardening. The problem is the more we learn the less we find we know. Amazing isn't it!!!!!!!!

Cheers Jando

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 9:12AM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi Greg
one of my high school teacher was monk , he often said to us
"be fool, don't think , be fool." while most teachers in this country and Japan tell us to be smart.....

he also said' you guys are fool, there for you should go to
college, if you are smart you don't need to go there.
he is only one said so . I like to here from him more... ............ mike

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 2:40PM
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Does someone have to be english to have an english cottage garden?


    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 3:23PM
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Only if the concept of "English Cottage Garden" has wieght in academic cirles. Garden Restoration is already looking into it : )

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 3:51PM
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No Greg.step aside Â.and I say unto you, "What kind of fool am I"

To think I could ever be a desirable apprentice for a Japanese Gardener or even build my own. I have read very little books. Have no mastery of one skill as a tradesmen. In reality if not for having my father I would amount to less then any apprentice of a profession. He gives me a roof over my head, food and clothes and always willing to let me work with him when he has work. Even if I know nothing and am a fool. While other sons are left to a harder reality.

IÂve been looking at myself thinking just because I get excited about Japanese Gardens and my love for exploring nature I would be able to build one. In truth a sailor from a fishing boat who can tie knots and understands rigging, pulleys and such is more valuable than me to any gardener. I know very little about ropes, pulleys and tackle. So in the end he could be of more use setting large stones and apprentice with a master.

IÂve looked at myself and thought what a fool am I. Know I understand Edzerds statement one must think out of the box. That I create my own. Have not studied any one subject passed satisfactory. And now that I have found something I really like IÂm not prepared. I look back at the time spent wasted idly while in school and now work. Look at all of lifeÂs experiences and now understand what life means. You have to fulfill many obligations before you are accepted into something that means a lot to you. You have to wait in line and let all the other people who have fulfilled their roles go ahead of you. Only If I knew back then. It sucks to have to start life from the beginning. Especially when others get to do what you desire and you have to wait youÂre turn. Hope you read enough books, passed enough schooling and have the experience to be taken seriously. Now I know why passion and love is not enough. ThatÂs only the beginning. It started the first day you were asked to give an answer. The person who responds the quikest and correctly is what peole value.

In that case I am correct to say thank God for my family. They can afford to accept my failures why the business world would relegate me to stock-boy or floor sweeper.

Japanese Gardening is really about who has accomplished a well rounded education. Fulfilled the many facets of earning a living and can now live his life rewarded from hard work and study. When reading books on Japanese Gardening that person will have the time, money and education to design, build and enjoy the authentic Japanese Garden that critics can applaud. I am jealous in a way but know I am the only one who has put up the walls. I have created my own box.

You have read many books. Keep reading you are already that much better than me. I am jealous in a good way.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 5:19PM
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I know that you need to have a goal so you know where to steer toward, but if you never set sail, there is less chance of getting there than if you change directions on the journey. If mastering the building of Japanese Gardens is your true dream, work at it in some small way daily. Even if you later find you have to tear it out and begin again, at least you will have a foundation of actual experience. Studying the philosophy and history and meaning of something is good, and honorable, and even necessary. But if you don't take those first foolish steps in order to know what to keep and what to improve, it will only be study. I think it was Tim on another thread jokingly said "It's only a hobby if it ain't got wabi sabi." It made me laugh, but it also made a point I remember each time I think of it -- if you aren't doing something, re-working it, adding, improving, comparing, pouring yourself into it daily, then it's recreation, not vocation.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 5:53PM
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Jando_1(Zone 5 IL)

Well said!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 6:02PM
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I wonder if the people who made the Japanese gardens that we all admire and some feel intimidated by, set out to make a "Japanese Garden"?
Anthony Newley wrote a song with the same title as this, a love song. A fool often makes an appearance in Shakespear's plays but the fools function is to wake up a dozing audience. In that classical sense Ricky fulfills the role because what he writes is such a challenge and so the fool is not a fool at all.
An idiot, on the other hand, starts from the wrong end of the conundrum. That is, he thinks he already knows the answer and attempts to make the pieces fit.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 6:33PM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi greg
some pay lot's of money to enjoy a peice of art.
some enjoy process and product .Japanese garden is for you to enjoy your life and family.
Do not afraid to make miss take.It is part of you enjoyment.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 10:36PM
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Hi Jando, Yama-san, Audric, Ricky, INKognito,

Thanks for all the replies.

Yama-san, I am not afraid to make mistakes. I am real good at doing that! And I am not afraid to learn what I need to learn to do what I need to do. The more I studied Japanese Gardening the more I realized just how ingrained they are to the Japanese people. The gardens history is so entwined with the culture that it is as if the garden is as much their language as it is a way of caring for their 'yards' and Temple grounds. I was sitting last night contemplating what I had learned, didn't know, needed to know, wanted to know, needed to do, wanted to do, and so on, when suddenly I felt rather foolish that a guy like me would be trying to build something that the Japanese had poured their heart and soul into for a thousand years. Why should I feel foolish when others bigger and better than I do it all the time? I don't know. I'm not going to stop working on my garden, but felt compelled to raise the question.

Jando, you are good for the soul! You are always so happy and upbeat! Thanks!

Audric, I loved your reply. It was almost identical to my initial thought regarding the statement 'there is no such thing as a Japanese Garden outside of Japan' posted by nachodaddy. I thought "is an English garden in the US, not an English garden?" Still, there just seems to be something different about the Japanese Garden.

Ricky, Ricky, I just don't know what to make of you. I am having a hard time guessing your age. I want to say...... I shouldn't. I like you, but, sometimes I think I would just like to grab you by the shirt collar and slap you up side the head (In a good way)...... You may simply not be able to do something you love all the time. In your life you are going to have to work. Hard. You know the saying "life's a b_tch and then you die". Get over it. Get on with something. Do you think your parents and their parents got what they have because someone just gave it to them. No, I'll bet they worked their finger to the bone for every little thing they have. And now you must do the same thing. If you want to be a gardener, then put up a sign and look for work. If you aren't the type to be self employed (most aren't and that's ok) then look for work in the trade and take what you can get. Then work. Study, And work some more. One day you will wake up and realize that you have become what you always wanted to be, yet just didn't realize it. If you think it will happen over night though you are kidding yourself. Another little saying I recall from my 8th grade science teacher. 'To avoid failure, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing'. In your case with your kind of passion that would be a terrible waste......
Also, hold tight those memories of how your dad feared for you. He can laugh now and you may someday too, but, I'll bet it won't be until you have children of your own.......

INKognito, you make an interesting correlation between Ricky and a character, but do I have be the idiot? :) Ok, Ok,,,,,, :)

Oh, yea, and while I'm at it, Yama-san, please do not assume everyone is not interested in the very detailed discussions about stone lanterns. I'm not everyone. :) I say this not be disrespectful but just to pass along a little hint. :))) Any time you want to talk 'lanterns' I'm all ears. Thanks for everything...


    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 12:21AM
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No Greg, I hadn't meant to imply that you were the idiot, on the contrary. Mike offers up an opportunity to contemplate the so called fool. Is is not wise to admit to not knowing and opening one's heart and mind so as to learn? What this means is akin to a guru principle, that you trust in and soak up what is being taught. The questions but not the answers come in your own meditation and contemplation about those teachings.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 6:32PM
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Hello Greg.

Learning from my own mistakes today.

You have said what others have not. In that I am greatfull for youre response. Many a time I have only listened to what I wanted. Waiting for the advice that told me what I wanted to hear. You are different and very valuable to a forum. I can even understand better the sublty within the words you wisley choose in order not to attract negative attention on people you talk with.

Im learning to like Korean Lanterns. I made the mistake of attracting bad juju to lantern viewers.I should be more ears and eyes.In that sense thank you for teaching me how to be respectfull Greg : )

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 6:38PM
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Thanks for the reply. Your right of course. I remember thinking when I read Yama-san's reply that his teachers were making an interesting point. Wise advice for sure. I work in the computer industry where everyday you are reminded how little you know how much you have to learn. Thanks again for your input.

Ricky, thanks for not being angry. I wish only the best for you.

I missed your reply the first time, but, I wanted you to know that you make an interesting point. Thanks.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 9:58PM
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Hope i can chime in here a little. you guys here might think i'm a loser or something but this is the way i see it. I like to garden etc. it gives me satisfaction to see plants growing, a water fall....a soothing sound... gets me away from my work...to say gees i'm not Japanese why would i wan to make a japanese garden... or from reading this forum today it appears that a Japanese garden is can be rigid and stuctured down to the rocks or whatever goes into it. I didn't really know that but i don't know anyone who is going to come over to my house and say...hey Kurt you know this isn't exactly a Japanese garden....you have mulch instead of some kind of rock...or the lantern isn't exact....overall....I like the look of a japanese garden, but if i had the money, and i was totally anal about it, I'd pay to have it put in exact....but i just like to garden and if it winds up being Kurt's vision of a Japanese Garden with plants he dug from other people's yards....well, that is what it is....maybe i'm too casual about it but i just want to relax and get away from work or whatever....It's also nice to see some of your own creativity.... Hope no one is offended by this response....i find myself saying that alot in here... because i truly do not want to disrespect anyone who is a true japanese gardener....I am in a rural part of NJ....pretty far from the orient....I like Sushi though...but i get that at the SuperMarket sometimes....


    Bookmark   July 3, 2004 at 12:18PM
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I am Free, Single and well over 21 ! I own my own ten acres in a beautiful spot that lends itself natuarally to a Japanses-type garden and I do any GD thing I want in my garden to please myself !!!!
Loved your posts Greg

    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 7:35PM
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Thomas Jefferson said in America each generation is a new nation.

What makes you think you can make an American garden of any generation but your own?

Of course you're not going to make a "Japanese" garden in a strict sense of the word. Given the particularism, the nativism, the nationalism of Japanese culture you might have to use native American plants and so forth. It's like the unsolvable problem of translating poetry.

But if you love the Japanese approach to gardening, you can find something in it that echoes of your soul and what your soul already understands. And, as everyone is saying, that is a good dialectic to get into.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 1:23AM
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agnes_wa(WA Aust)

Greg - you seem to be suggesting that in order to be a Japanese gardener, you need some form of authenticity - ie. being Japanese. Some of the best chinese food I have eaten haven't been cooked by chinese - in fact, my husband makes great chicken rice.

Just enjoy it for what it is, digging up dirt, planting green things, watching them grow, and nature taking its course. Personally, I think Kurt's reference to anal retentiveness is spot on. Don't intellectualise if you feel no need to do so, and for those of you who do feel the need, don't spoil it for others.

Just my 2'pence worth.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 12:12AM
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If one has a burning desire, then the need for athenticity, is an important factor to that particular person. I cannot myself, possibly see, the "mistakes" in a Japanese Garden, that was created by a person, who had not "mastered" the art of Japanese gardening. I do not know, if that person, personally selected the appropriate rocks, or plants. I only know, that it looks, and is beautiful to my eyes, and I can appreciate it, for the effort and time, it took that person to create it. I know some of the aspects, of Japanese Garden art, but not all. I know I could create, a small garden, with the limeted knowledge I have, but to someone, with a vast knowledge, my creation, wouldn't be perfect....is anything in life perfect? I dare, and emphatically, have to say NO! Cathy ;)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2004 at 8:09AM
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I think the important thing is not to put too much flesh on your garden bones too early in the process of trying to understand it. I think that you have to remain conservative at first and build in the essence or mainframe and keep looking and looking and looking and reading until you see your own vision. I can now feel my own vision starting to take shape.

As an example, I thought that I just had to have a stone lantern, but since they are very expensive I put it off until now I no longer think that I want one because the sight of one now is becoming to cliché and they are not an icon of my culture.

I also want a teahouse but not a literal one. I want the reason and essence of the teahouse, modified to my Missouri esthetics - it will now be a BBQ shack in the spirit of meal taking with my family and friends as opposed to tea taking. It will have the same basic backbone and shapes sans the overemphasized and upturned corners, with a large overhang, and will be completely screened from Missouris mosquito. And I would like to figure out a low table that middle-aged Americans can sit around without going into spasms.

I want to understand stone placement and large plantings en mass for balance with the final goal being a truly pleasing "Missouri" garden that a Japanese master gardener can recognize and appreciate as authentic to the spirit of the Japanese style which I believe is just one manifestation of a more universal truth. I have come to the realization that I want no "overt" Japanese notes. There will be few human structures such as a teahouse and gate, but they will morph into a modified western version similar to American Arts and Crafts in style.

I think authenticity should be in mainframe and not necessarily the accoutrements. If one centers on the accoutrements then you may wind up unhappily chasing authenticity

    Bookmark   November 12, 2004 at 3:41PM
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nlin0273(z9-10 CA)

I would like as then how many kinds of fools are there?
I'm chinese and I have some experience with Japanese Gardens. I know to make celtic knots, but I'm not Celtic, far from it. It's not as hard as you think. It's about pleasing your sense of esthetics, your sense of wonders and your sense of peace. I also see nothing wrong with Korean lanterns. I stick chinese stuff in a Japanese garden and japanese stuff in a chinese garden. Come on have some fun with it. Relax.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2004 at 12:16PM
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"Come on have some fun with it. Relax"

excellent!! nlin

    Bookmark   November 17, 2004 at 12:24PM
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