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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.
The Author: Seiko Goto is a practicing landscape architect as well as a scholar of East Asian and European garden history. She received her Ph.D. in the history of Japanese gardens from Chiba University in Japan and also studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Prior to joining the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, Goto taught a course on Japanese religion at the University of Toronto.