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The Japanese Garden

Gateway to the Human Spirit

Seiko Goto

Even in crowded metropolitan areas, Japan’s temple precincts preserve not only architecture, but the garden traditions of earlier centuries as well. To step into a temple garden is, in effect, to tread the paths of Japanese aesthetic history. This time travel experience is not unlike venturing into a medieval church situated in a modern Western metropolis. The recognized religious traditions survive in the layout and rationale of Japan’s gardens: Shintō, Buddhist, and Confucian. This book explores the distinct priorities and vocabularies of these traditions as expressed in the elements of garden design, historically tracing their shared features and their interactions at particular sites. Amply illustrated, it orients the reader to the different functions of gardens, such as whether they are to be looked at or walked in.