Books worth owning

DonPylant(z8TX)August 3, 2005

While it is true, Japanese gardening knowledge has seldom been transferred through books, I believe there are many worth reading, especially for the inspiration. I will mention some with the hope that others will share their favorite titles and why they found them useful.

*Japanese Gardens by Gunter Nitschke (theory and history)

*Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens by David Slawson (design and some methodology)

*Japanese Garden Design by Marc Keane (some basics and history)

*Sakuteiki translation by Takei and Keane (simplified exerpts from an ancient Japanese gardening text)

And here's one that holds the spirit of Kyoto for me, although not much on Japanese Gardening technique; The Art of Setting Stones by Marc Keane. I often give this one as a gift to friends.

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I am not one for nit picking Don (!) but do you mean books worth owning or books worth reading?
I have not read any of the books on your list from cover to cover yet I own all of them and I too like Marc's little book and I wrote and told him so. Remember Mike was always insisting that we get back to the source that he suggested unpopularly might be religious and I think this where the inspiration might best come from. Not particularly religion, I don't mean but to study what inspired this kind of garden in the first place and yes you are right books may be the only way for some of us. But these books may be books of poetry or books that tell a tale or painting or....

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 5:20PM
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I agree Inky, poetry, flower arranging, art, and religion all are avenues to understanding the culture, history and beliefs influencing the evolution of Japanese Gardening. The books I listed, I have read from cover to cover, but keep referring back to (I do confess a compulsion for horticultural books). These, I am happy to own.

Inky, could you elaborate on Mike's source ,either here or email? This is not ringing a bell with me. AND don't forget to list at least one book you are glad you own?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 9:42PM
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Gardener_KS(zone 5 KS)

Be sure to check out the list of books recommended by forum participants since the forum began. It's available when you click on FAQ at the top of the forum. And thanks again to gregoryjohn for compiling all that info!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 11:09PM
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Mike (yama) was exploring the sutras (Buddhist texts), mainly the diamond sutra, because he wanted to see if they contained the essence or be a source for knowledge pertaining to gardening. Marc Keane writes that he finds the brush strokes he makes in caligraphy getting back to the origin of shapes used by the old masters.
A book I am glad to own? Christopher Alexanders "A timeless way of building," because it helped (is helping) me to understand the meaning of the built environment (including Japanese gardens).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 8:47AM
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The magic of trees & stones - Saito & Wada
also relevant to another current topic and a very useful, interesting read (if you are a moss freak like I) Moss gardening - Goerge Schenk

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 5:04AM
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Graham - I've just looked up George Schenk's book on Moss Gardening & promptly decided that I must have it. An order's been placed. Herb

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 2:40PM
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Inky, I looked for a sneek preview of The Timeless Way of Building, but Amazon doesn't offer much info. I hope it is the library. And Niwashi-san, if Schenk's book on Moss is as well done as his Shade Gardening book, I'll buy it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 3:33PM
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Along with Saito & Wada's Magic Of Trees and Stones, I'd say.. 'Japanese Stone Gardens - how to make and enjoy them' - by Kazuhiko Fukuda..

These make wonderful companions, and are my two all-time favourites


    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 10:33PM
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kobold(Vancouver BC)

Very hard to pick the most loved ones, to add to the list

Japanese Gardening Hints by Saito
Modern Japanese Garden by Shunmyo Masuo

art relates to gardens ( I belive that most of us received and enjoyed Mike's gift, the copy of a painting ). I found the following books to be very interesting and useful, just to mention a few

Japanese Cabinetry by David Jackson & Dane Owen
Japonism- The Japanese influence on Western art since 1858 by Siegfried Wichman
Monet & Japan by National Gallery of Australia
Books about Hokusai and Hiroshige ( my personal favorites)


    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 5:54AM
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Herb and Don, take care with this book, ownership will have you well on the road to being a moss freak.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 3:25PM
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I recommend "The Magic of Trees and Stones" by Katsuo Saito and "A Japanese Touch for Your Home." Keane's book, "The Art of Setting Stones," has nothing to do with gardening. The title is misleading.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 12:05PM
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I don't understand why you would say that Keane's book, "The Art of Setting Stones" has nothing to do with gardening, while at the same time you recommend the book by Saito & Wada "The Magic of Trees and Stones". The latter devotes a good deal of attention to the use of stones in gardens.

So does the JOJG - it often carries articles about the desirability of rocks in Japanese gardens. For example, in issue #34, where it discusses how to start a Japanese garden, it says -

"A good portion of your early budget shopuld go towards geology. And we mean BIG rocks - the kind that can only be moved by heavy equipment like cranes and track-hoes."

Among the books that I like are Japanese Gardens Revisited published by Tuttle, and Landscapes for Small Spaces by Katsuhiko Mizuno.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 1:02PM
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KNR, re-read my recommendation on Art of Setting Stones. It does not address design or construction, but certainly shares delicious experiences relating to them! Still one of my favorites!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 8:07PM
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nachodaddy(quiet, I’m trying to meditate!)


Send me a list of your "worthless books". If I do not already have them, I will buy them for forty cents on the dollar. This is a better deal than what you would get on eBay or at a used bookstore.

If someone took the time to put together a book then I will give it a shot. Seems fair.

However, I am not interested in the "paint by numbers, this rock absolutely HAS to go there or it is WRONG" types of books. I prefer to think for myself...............

Also, no JOJGs. See above paragraph for clarification.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 8:59PM
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Let's see if we can decipher this "not being a dick'' thing.
Clearly its post has nothing to do with the Keane book, is it an anagram perhaps?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 9:37PM
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coachsmyth(4 Canada NWBC)

just a small point
Gardner has quite correctly pointed out we have compiled an extensive list of very worthwhile books in the groups FAQ. Are we starting again or did I miss something in the original post? If so, Phillip Cave's "Creating Japanese Gardens" was very helpful for me. A bit short on text but fabulous pictures
If I missed something- I'm sorry

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 1:17AM
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coachsmyth, so desu ne.

The existing book list is useful, but this post was in response to a comment from another post about the lack of good JG books in English. I just wanted to share some favorites that may not be on the list and to hear from others about their favorites (and what those favorites had to offer). I think the forum is all about information and resources, right? I would suggest these be considered for addition to the list AND include comments on them from the posters.

This has absolutly nothing to do with the fact that my birthday is coming up and I will prpbably receive book gift certificates : )

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:18PM
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Don, I mentioned this one earlier in another post. It was published in Japanese and then a few months later in English. Lots of of photos and how to info.

Inside Japanese Gardens - From Basics to Planning, Management and Improvement.

Hard to purchase, but likly available from your local Japanese Embassy or consulate General office.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:48PM
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First a disclaimer - I am extremely biased in making this assessment. David Slawson is a good friend and co-writer of my new video "In Full Circle" (see JOJG).

Before starting the project I knew almost nothing about Japanese gardens except that they had a deep, almost mystical effect on me. I read and re-read David's book and really began to "see" and understand how a well designed and maintained garden can profoundly effect your mental and emotional state. I also understood that these gardens can change the way we look at the natural world - they actually help train our eyes and hearts to see and feel the beauty around us.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 2:18PM
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You are right, Gerald. I can't find it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 3:12PM
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ScottReil_GD(z5 CT)

Hard to imagine the list without Josiah Conder's seminal work. My personal fave is Japanese Garden Construction by Samuel Newscom...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 3:37PM
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Another one worth owning is "The Garden as Architecture: Form and Spirit in the Gardens of Japan, China, and Korea" by Toshiro Inaji.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 4:35PM
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I agree that "Magic of Trees and Stones" is worth owning. But at more than $100 it was also worth borrowing from the library.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 6:13PM
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Thanks to all (including GregoryJohn!) for the book comments. I promise this thread was started in the interest of sharing opinions on good English language books on Japanese Gardening...

It seems that between my book gift certificates and my new mosquito eating machine, I will have a comfortable and informative birthday!

Domo arigato gozai-mashita!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 8:11PM
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Don and others ---

I just ordered the book Gerald recommended, "Inside Japanese Gardens --- from Basics to Planning, Management and Improvement" from The cost is 4,762 yen. Shipping (by sea mail) is 1,000 yen plus 300 yen for each book (I ordered a bunch of books to make it more worthwhile). The ISBN number for the English edition is 4620906360.

I do read Japanese and can type it with my computer, but I think the website is supposed to be set up so you can use it with only English. Look for the buttons that say "show this in English" or something like that.

If anyone would like to order it and needs help with the Japanese website please send me an e-mail and I'd be glad to help. Also, if a bunch of people are interested I could place an order for a bunch of copies and distribute them from here. It is a bit pricey at the present exchange rate.

The other books (in Japanese) I ordered are: several either written or edited by Shunmyo Masuno (that guy who someone claims is waiting for all of us suckers to be born minute by minute) and a couple of annotated versions of the Sakuteiki (the classic 11th century garden-building manual).

The books will not all be available to ship until late September ("Inside Japanese Gardens" takes 3-4 weeks to get) and shipping is supposed to take about 4 weeks, so it'll be something to look forward to in the fall...


    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 12:12PM
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Hi Lee, glad to hear you were able to find it. Hopfully there will be another printing shortly.

As the book was commisioned by the Japanese Gov't for a specific use, you will notice that the English edition was not written for English speakers, rather the concentration was to translate the true meanings and understandings into English for non Japanese readers, meaning for people who likley speak English as a second or third language.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 10:33PM
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kobold(Vancouver BC)

mosquito eating machine, eh? so you got it!

Happy birthday Don!


    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 2:09AM
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Thanks Andrea. I borrowed one for 2 weeks. Two hundred Asian Tiger mosquito females in two days convinced me! I have one on order.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 12:40PM
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patjonking(z7 VA)

I like "The Art of the Japanese Garden" by Tatsuo Ishimoto.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 10:35AM
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ScottReil_GD(z5 CT)

Teiji Itoh's 'Gardens of Japan' is very good...

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 11:14PM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi all
Cady and I working on the book . sort of DIY book. I have learned how to sharpenig own tools as aprentice what to use sharpening tools.
How to make simple tools which Japanese gardeners make own. How to make trypod ladder your self and how to use tripod to handle large boulder or move large tree your self.
Pruing, transplanting etc..... Many of you never been to Japan , never saw Japanese gardeners working on the site. Most books are written by scholars, landscape archtects and only few books are written by gardners.

I have been in USA for over 30 years now I also understand life style of America and Cannada( thanks for Edzard,Tony Herb, and Andrea ^l^)
I have asked many months ago to you guys, what kind of informations you are looking for.also partecepating GW jgarden forum past few years, we have good idea what you are looking for and informations you can not find in the other books.
We are going to Write about things learned as aprentice why and how and basic Japanese gardeing skills which can apply to any western garden.
Use lots of drawings and photos...
we are open to any sugestions.........................mike

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 11:17PM
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