The Japanese Garden by Sophie Walker – review

Japanese gardenAn in-depth exploration spanning 800 years of the art, essence, and enduring impact of the Japanese Garden.

The most comprehensive exploration of the art and concept of the Japanese garden published to date, this book covers more than eight centuries of the history of this iconic horticultural genre. One might think of a Japanese garden as a sea of carefully raked gravel punctuated by islands of craggy rocks, but there are many styles of this traditional Japanese art.

Striking photographs which show passing seasons

Author and garden designer Sophie Walker explores the Japanese garden in detail through a series of essays, showcasing 100 well-chosen and diverse landscapes, ranging from ancient Shinto shrines to Imperial parks and contemporary Zen designs. There are striking photographs which show not only design concepts but also those passing seasons so important in Japanese culture. There is a stunning shot of the bamboo forest near Kyoto. It’s not an image of lush and fresh green but of bamboo in the snow. I have visited that bamboo forest in the summer, along with crowds of tourists, and I can say that the snowy and deserted scene shows this forest to best advantage.

There are examples in The Japanese Garden of typical Zen tapestries of stark lines, with eddies of small stones and moss-covered rocks. There are acres of established planting, clipped pines, ponds and traditional wooden buildings to add architectural context. There are temple grounds and palace lawns. This is a growing and evolving natural art form but a supremely accessible one.

The Japanese Garden is a worthy tome for any garden lover but also for any Japanophile.  The Japanese Garden is bound to appeal to gardeners who are looking for some inspiration of the classic and well-manicured variety.


The Japanese Garden
Author: Sophie Walker
Published by: Phaidon Press
Price: £49.95

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0714874779
SBN-13: 978-0714874777

Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2017


See other articles on Japan here