The third issue of The Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is now available in print. The Journal is FREE to members and also available for purchase by members who wish to get additional copies and to the general public.
Member Price: $16.00 (within US), $20.00 (Canada, Japan and other countries) General Public: $20.00 (within US), $25.00 (Canada, Japan and other countries). Prices include postage. To order, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From NAJGA Journal 3 Editor K.T. Cannon-Eger:
EDITOR’S MESSAGE: New Pathways Toward a Healthier World
“The first issue of the Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association concentrated on “Connections,” the theme of the first biennial convention held in Denver in 2012. Journal two was organized around the theme of “Lessons Learned.” Following the 2014 biennial convention in Chicago, Illinois, and with an eye toward the 2016 conference in Delray Beach Florida, this issue was organized around the theme of “New Pathways Toward a Healthier World.”
The initial hope of the first Journal to encourage landscape specialists and enthusiasts to explore articles outside their immediate areas of interest continues in this issue while we maintain a dedication to the NAJGA goals of advancement in Horticulture, Human Culture, and Business Culture.
In horticulture, we draw on one of the stalwarts of NAJGA, a garden designer and gentle speaker on the benefits to human well-being of Japanese-style landscapes. His remarks are followed by a case study of a hospital in Oregon. Delving further into horticulture, is an article on moss and its uses in gardens in Japan and around the world. This is accompanied by an excerpt from a new book of short stories, one of which speaks to remediation by moss.
Connecting several gardens is the human culture question of how gardens attract volunteers, how the volunteers are trained, and how their interest is maintained.
The business culture portion of this issue tackles two subjects. First, how do public gardens attract visitors and maintain their interest? Second, how do public gardens prepare to handle crises such as fire, flood, or storm damage?
Articles of historical interest, a book review, and obituaries round out the contents of Journal number three.
I am full of gratitude for the guidance and direction of the Board of Directors Past President and first Journal Editor Kendall H. Brown, whose knowledge and dedication are above and beyond. He has skillfully taken editorial scalpel to overly long manuscripts. His artistic sensibility and devotion to history are among other great assets to the organization and to this Journal. This issue could not have happened without the work of the editorial board. Thank you Dr. Seiko Goto, Ben Chu, and Edzard Teubert. And a great big tip of the hat to Grace Roxas Morrissey of NAJGA who keeps us all on track. Deep gratitude to all the authors, photographers, and graphic artists who have contributed their talents. Readers will find more information about the authors on a subsequent page. Welcome to Brian Pendleton of Vancouver, B.C. who is taking on editorial responsibilities for the next issue.”
The renowned Scottish landscape architect and ecological planning pioneer Ian McHarg was once quoted as saying that if Manitoga was built in Japan, it would have been a “national monument.” “Japan has many such sites, but the United States has only Manitoga, the temple to managed succession, inspired ecological design.”
Manitoga in Garrison, New York has since achieved that distinction and more. It is a National Historic Landmark, an Affiliate Site of the National Trust for Historic Conservation and a World Monuments Watch Site. Officially known as the Manitoga/ The Russell Wright Design Center, it is a place still strongly animated by the vision of its original owner and creator, Midcentury modern designer Russell Wright whose work was strongly influenced by Japanese aesthetics, not least in the way he conceptualized his home / studio (Dragon Rock) and the woodland garden around it.
Dragon Rock at Manitoga
Manitoga studio interior
Wright’s Japanese connection apparently runs deeper than is commonly thought. He also contributed to the cross-fertilization of American and Japanese sensibilities in Modernist aesthetics by serving as an adviser to the post-World War II Japanese government on handcraft design that would resonate with the US export market, according to Japanese Modernist design scholar Yuko Kikuchi.
In Manitoga, which Wright considers as a pinnacle of his career, the Japanese touch is everywhere evident and seamlessly integrated into his nature-centered instinct for design and even his taste for theatrics as a former theater set designer. Dragon Rock is said to be reminiscent of Japanese temple architecture, as executed by architect David L. Leavitt with whom Wright shares a fondness for Japanese design. Leavitt has worked in Japan with the architect Antonin Raymond whose students include the Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura, creator of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia and the traditional teahouse at the Japanese garden in Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, Tarrytown, New York.
Dining area from above
Window sill detail
While Dragon Rock has often been compared to the famous Fallingwater house of architect Frank Lloyd Wright (no relation), it seems to fall back more into the landscape, despite a name that’s evocative of a far more conspicuous presence. From the green roofs — revolutionary for a structure built in the early 1950s — to the floor-to-ceiling windows and the tree trunk and natural boulders that define the interiors of the space, Wright was intent on blurring the boundaries between the outdoor and indoor spaces and synthesizing the natural with the man-made, a design sentiment that is also characteristically Japanese. The name of the house itself, derived from the innocent fancy of Wright’s young daughter Annie who imagined a dragon shape in the rock formation, recalls the convention for naming rocks in a Japanese garden for mythical animals.
The great outdoors that Wright and Leavitt sought to bring in through this organic architecture is a 75-acre expanse that simultaneously evokes the experience of a stroll garden from Japan’s Edo Period (1603 – 1867) and taps into Wright’s penchant for drama as a former stage designer. Even as the house maximizes the view outside, the forest garden is also meant to be journeyed into.
Here, the Japanese garden design principle of miegakure (hide and reveal) also becomes a device in Wright’s nature theater for building up a dramatic effect as one traverses through the path of the woodland garden.
“Along each path, the landscape and its themes unfold sequentially. There is an introduction, a dramatic build-up, elaboration of a theme, and then a climax or a goal; the building of tension and its dramatic release – the whole design a musical composition.”
A rock in the middle of the driveway, for example, slows movement and forces contemplation of the immediate surroundings. The sound of an unseen water feature at an entrance builds anticipation.
This theatricality also plays into the notion of a Japanese garden as an idealized re-creation or distillation of nature. Landscape architect and Wright’s cousin Carol Franklin notes Wright’s manipulation of naturally occurring elements, particularly native plant species, to create the moments of denouement in the garden: a moss garden on top of the quarry pond, masses of mountain laurels and dogwoods in bloom, a fiery corridor of backlit autumn foliage. Design historian D.J. Huppatz also speculated about Wright’s use of “borrowed scenery” (shakkei) to provide points of interest along the walking paths.
And then, there are the rocks. In the course of the 35 years since first acquiring the property as an abandoned granite quarry in 1942, Wright bided his time studying and working with the natural rock formations in the area to distill its essence as a “place of great spirit” (the English translation of “Manitoga,” an Algonquin word). A mountain stream was diverted and a 30-foot, multi-level waterfall created to form a swimming pond. There are also a variety of rock groupings and stepping stone paths found all over the property. These rocks, ancient as they are in these parts, found a new purpose in the nexus of the natural and built environment in Manitoga.
Manitoga is part of the Garden Architecture Tour on October 7, 2016 co-hosted by the North American Japanese Garden Association and the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia. The tour is part of a two-day event on October 7 and 8, “Modernism, Japanese Carpentry and the Garden: Preserving the Architecture of Junzo Yoshimura.” For details and to register, visit http://najga.org/Philadelphia-2016
Two-Day Event Focus On Modernist and Traditional Japanese Design In the Garden
Philadelphia, PA – On October 7 and 8, the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is teaming up with the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) to explore the adaptation and preservation of Modernist and traditional Japanese design in several garden settings found in New York and Philadelphia. NAJGA is a non-profit that promotes the art, craft and heart of Japanese gardens in USA and Canada.
The coach heritage tour on October 7 will feature prime examples of Japanese and Mid-century modern architecture in two garden estates: Kykuit at the Rockefeller estate in Tarrytown, New York with its century-old Japanese garden, and the Manitoga / The Russell Wright Design Center in Garrison, New York with its Japanese-influenced woodland garden. Also included with the tour registration is a box lunch and free admission to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia, which will be the assembly point for the tour.
Yoshimura Teahouse at Kykuit
Dragon Rock at Manitoga
“Autumn is one of the best times to be in a Japanese garden and as the leaves turn and fall away, we are better able to isolate and appreciate the architectural aspects of the garden, particularly the buildings that exist in its context,” says NAJGA board president and JASGP executive director Kim Andrews.
The work of revered Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura will be a prime focus of this event. Aside from being the acclaimed designer of Shofuso, he also built a traditional teahouse for the Japanese garden in Kykuit. The tour will include a lecture about Yoshimura’s works as well as a viewing of the exterior of the Marcel Breuer House in Kykuit.
On October 8, Yoshimura’s legacy at Shofuso will be further scrutinized through the lenses of an ongoing heritage preservation project in a workshop that includes a Japanese carpentry demonstration, practicum on historic preservation reporting, and hinoki roof demonstration. Shofuso’s heritage preservation project aims to uphold Yoshimura’s rigorous standards for designing Shofuso using traditional Japanese design, and one of its most major components is the restoration of the roof made from the bark of the hinoki cypress. Heritage preservation experts and craftsmen skilled in traditional Japanese techniques will serve as lecturers and facilitators during the workshop.
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Hinoki bark roof restoration
“Our ongoing effort to meet the preservation challenges presented by Yoshimura’s uncompromising standards is also an excellent learning opportunity for everyone else interested in heritage conservation and the modern adaptation of traditional Japanese design,” says Andrews. “Knowing about how to properly report on conditions for heritage structures, for example, is a must for community custodians of these structures inside and outside the garden setting.”
The two-day event will be occurring during one of the busiest weeks in the Philadelphia design scene as it is also part of the 2016 DesignPhiladelphia festival (October 6 to 16), the oldest open-source event of its kind in the United States, and of the Docomomo US Tour Day 2016 (October 8), an annual event for raising awareness of and appreciation of buildings, interiors and landscapes designed in the US during the mid-20th century.
The North American Japanese Garden Association and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens To Host Experts from Six Countries
The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is bringing together international garden specialists from Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia for two days of learning, exchange and camaraderie that focuses on understanding and utilizing Japanese gardens as nature-based therapeutic settings. NAJGA is a non-profit promoting the art, craft and heart of Japanese gardens in the US and Canada.
NAJGA’s 3rd biennial conference, “Towards A Healthier World: Japanese Gardens As Places For Wellness and Transformation,” will take place on March 7 and 8, 2016 at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, FL. The conference is open to the general public and will appeal to persons interested in Japanese gardens, and in broader issues of how landscape can positively transform lives and society.
The more than 40 conference presentations include research findings, case studies, best practices and garden histories related to designing, fostering and utilizing Japanese gardens as havens of healing. Speakers will talk about a wide range gardens from backyard gardens, public and university gardens, spas and other leisure industry venues, to hospices and hospitals. For garden practitioners who wish to improve their level of understanding of Japanese gardening, there will be topics related to Japanese garden design, maintenance, and fostering more creative engagement with the garden.
Click HERE and HERE for a preview of conference presentations and meet the speakers.
Photography Workshop, Garden Talk and Tours
There will be a twilight photography workshop by noted landscape and garden photographer David Cobb on March 7. Cobb is the photographer of the book Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America, 2013 Home & Garden book of the year for the Independent Book Publishers Association. Other special events include a lecture at the banquet by multi-awarded Morikami garden designer Hoichi Kurisu on Japanese garden design and healing, and a chance to participate in the Morikami’s pioneering “Stroll For Well-Being” program. A March 6 pre-conference bus tour visits garden and museum locations in Delray Beach and West Palm Beach.
“Wellness and Japanese gardens have been inextricably linked for centuries and there is now a growing global movement to understand the therapeutic value of nature-based settings,” said NAJGA Board President Kim Andrews. “NAJGA will connect these two historic developments through a conference that paves the way for practical applications in personal wellness and supports the well-being of whole communities.”
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreations Director Eric Call welcomes participants to Morikami. “Ensuring health and wellness opportunities for both mind and body is a core service of the department and I can’t think of a more beautiful and tranquil setting (for the conference),” he says.
Special thanks to our conference partners and sponsors:
The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) recently talked moss with Al Benner, a NAJGA member and owner of Moss Acres, a company that specializes in the use of moss for gardening.
NAJGA: What are your general observations about moss gardening interest in North America over the past few years?
AB: I would say the interest level continues to grow. Moss was originally looked upon as an “invader” something growing where grass was supposed to be growing. Actually moss has been around for over 500 million years, and the 15,000+ species worldwide each have conditions that best suit their individual needs. Some species like shade, others prefer full sun. Some like it wet, others drier. They all need moisture at some point in time to grow. They have no true roots, so all moisture is absorbed through the leaves. Moss has more recently received considerable press coverage as being an environmentally sustainable choice for many locations and conditions. If moss is growing somewhere on it’s own it is for good reason – it likes that location.
NAJGA: How did your company get started in moss gardening?
AB: My father, Dave Benner began experimenting with moss lawns and garden areas on his 2-acre wooded, hillside gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania back in the early 1960’s. In 2000, I started Moss Acres as a national mail order company to fill an unmet need as the first supplier of live moss in large quantities. We ship our mosses to home gardeners and landscape professionals who are looking for an alternative ground cover for shady garden areas.
NAJGA: Which moss varieties do you carry that are the most popular or highly recommended for Japanese-style gardens?
AB: Although moss gardens in Japan may have many different species of mosses the primary species that moss gardens in Japan use: haircap, pincushion and rock cap (broom) are three of the five species that Moss Acres provides. The other two species (sheet moss and fern moss) that Moss Acres offers are also popular in Japan. Moss Acres offers these varieties because not only are they traditional varieties utilized for centuries in Japan, but they are also “generalists” that grow well in a variety of settings provided there is adequate shade and moisture.
Are there public Japanese gardens which feature your mosses?
AB: The Garden of the Phoenix on Jackson Park in Chicago and this spring, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia. Both are establishing new moss gardens. The moss garden in the Garden of the Phoenix was started last October as part of the NAJGA skills development workshop prior to the 2014 NAJGA convention. This moss garden will be expanded this year and then be on display for the 2015 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) convention in November in Chicago.
One thing that really surprises us is that the most popular moss in the gardens of Japan, haircap moss or Polytrichum commune, are rarely found in the Japanese gardens in the United States. Yet haircap is easy to grow and in many states is a very common native plant.
Check out this picture of haircap moss growing among the bluestone pavers at Moss Acres. Over time the haircap has naturalized among the pavers. This would be an easy way for any Japanese garden to introduce haircap moss into their Japanese garden. It can also tolerate quite a bit of sun, as it has root-like structures called rhizoids that penetrate several inches into the soil.
NAJGA: How about residential garden owners? Are they also incorporating moss as part of their private, Japanese-style gardens?
AB: I would say they are all over the map here. Most of the projects are smaller in scope and usually deal with creating a smaller naturalized garden in a small grotto area. Stone and/or water features and ferns are often incorporated. Utilizing sheet mosses, like hypnum is very common in between pavers for walkways. The sheet mosses can handle a fair amount of foot traffic so they work well for this application. There are a handful of private, Japanese style gardens out there that incorporate moss, but they are few and far between.
NAJGA: What services can you offer your customers aside from providing the moss materials for their garden?
We provide a lot of online and phone support for folks getting started with moss. Our website at www.MossAcres.com is also a great resource for information on all aspects of moss gardening.
Currently we are exploring several green wall projects utilizing moss that plan to be installed during the spring of 2015. We accomplish this by taking moss that is grown from fragments onto synthetic geotextile mats and installing them vertically with drip lines as living moss walls. Our tests of this process over the past two years have been very encouraging and we are now ready for some installations to go in. We also have had several moss roofs installed though the years and are experimenting with other mediums for this application that allow for significant water holding capabilities.
Creating Beauty Behind Barbed Wire by Jeff Burton and Mary Farrell
“A desolate prison camp in the high desert seems an unlikely place for a Japanese garden contest, let alone an outstanding collection of Japanese gardens. World War II would seem an unlikely time for Japanese Americans to assert their Japanese heritage. Yet the Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Manzanar Relocation Center, now Manzanar National Historic Site, left a legacy of beauty, resistance, and resilience in Japanese gardens.
The incarceration of almost 120,000 Japanese-Americans — most American citizens — by the US government during World War II is one of the most shameful stories in American history. The “Relocation” removed persons of Japanese ancestry from their homes, schools, and businesses on the West Coast and placed mostly behind barbed wire. Manzanar opened in March 1942 — one of ten camps — to incarcerate more than 10,000 people.
Although this episode managed to stay out of US history books for decades, it has come to light through the efforts of the Japanese-American community, civil rights advocates, historians and archaeologists.
Three of these sites are now part of the National Park Service, which is charged with educating the public to prevent similar government-sponsored racism…..”
On the Purpose & Role of Japanese Gardens in American Internment Camps by Seiko Goto, Ph.D.
“Multiple Japanese gardens were built in all ten internment camps. Japanese gardens in Manzanar Relocation Center have been called “Momoyama-style gardens,” and summarized as an “important means for the expression of Japanese American cultural values within the regimented organization of the camp.” The question arises: why would internees facing such hardship due to their nationality decide to build gardens to express their culture? It is thus important to analyze the purpose and role of Japanese gardens in the internment camp to assess their value….
….Internment is generally the confinement of people done by a government to police people and confiscate their assets. Japanese internment in the United States, however, was unique in that these camps confined people with American citizenship based only on their ethnic background. The camp gardens were also for viewing and living, not solely for food production…
…Conditions and facilities in the camps varied. Administrators in Gila River, Granada, Manzanar, and Topaz supported garden construction and large scale gardens were made in these camps. Small ornamental Japanese gardens, however, were made in all. Poston is notable as the famous Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi became the chief landscape planner…”
Read the full version of these articles in the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal. The Journal is free to members of the North American Japanese Garden Association. To order additional copies or to order as a non-member, click HERE.
Japanese gardens outside of Japan number more than 450, of which approximately 300 are in North America. Of that substantial number, fewer than 20 have reached the centennial mark. In this issue, six gardens across the continental United States and out into the Pacific were asked to share their centennial stories.
“Every historic garden should have a book like this, a publication that brings together the physical and archival evidence about a designed landscape in a readable and engaging form. This book uncovers the stories of the origins, creators and on-going appreciation and use of the Huntington’s Japanese Garden following a year-long closure during which a $6.8 million renovation was undertaken… The garden reopened in April 2012 to mark its centennial as a beloved and iconic landscape in Pasadena, California.”
Maymont: A Victorian Estate’s Japanese Garden, 1912 Carla Murray
“Maymont, a 100-acre estate in Richmond Virginia, celebrated the centennial anniversary of its Japanese garden in 2012 with a year-long series of programs and events…Japanese gardens were among the favorite showplaces for Gilded Age showplaces such as Maymont, so it is no surprise that James and Sallie Dooley employed Japanese garden makers to plant such a landscape in the wedge-shaped section of land, adjacent to the Kanawha Canal, which they purchased in 1911.”
Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, 1915 Brian Funk
“In 2015, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. The garden, initiated with a gift from philanthropist Alfred T. White (1846-1921), opened to the public on June 6, 1915. Serving as a landmark for the borough of Brooklyn and containing a rather dramatic history, this garden is among the earliest public Japanese gardens in the United States. It is a beloved garden for urbanites trying to escape the clamor of the city. It also is popular as a home to many koi, turtles, ducks, and occasionally, herons.”
San Diego, California: The Japanese Friendship Garden Marisa Takeuchi
“The Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, California got its start in a different location at Balboa Park as a tea house for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. Starting several years ago, the garden embarked on a major expansion to increase its size to more than eleven acres by clearing the ravine behind the present garden. Since then, a waterfall and stream have been installed. ‘Pink Cloud’ and other cherry trees planted in a new grove bloom annually for a festival begun nine years ago….”
Hakone Estate and Gardens in Saratoga, CA Celebrate Centennial in 2015 Lon Saavedra
“In 1915, San Francisco philanthropists Oliver (1877-1918) and Isabel Stine (1880-1959) purchased land to establish a mountainside retreat for their family, international dignitaries, and friends of the art…The following year, Mrs. Stine sailed to Japan, where she visited various historic gardens…Upon her return to America, Mrs. Stine began work on a Japanese-style country estate and gardens in Saratoga on an eighteen-acre hillside…Hakone is one of the historic crown jewels of the Silicon Valley with a rich history of cultural events and celebrations throughout the past century.”
Lili’uokalani Garden in Hilo: A Century-Old Tapestry Woven of Many Threads By K.T. Cannon-Eger
“Lili’uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawai’i resulted from the collaboration of several women: the Queen after her rule was overthrown, an immigrant Japanese women’s society, and a Caucasian whose travels to Japan left her deeply smitten with Japanese gardens… Preparations are being made for the dual centennials in 2017 of the passing of Queen Lili’uokalani and her namesake garden…Hilo is so fortunate to have a living work of art adjacent to the ocean and with a view of the majestic Mauna Kea.”
The 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal is free to members of the North American Japanese Garden Association. To order additional copies or to order as a non-member, click HERE.
Graham Hardman of the Japanese Garden Society, NAJGA’s affiliate organization in the United Kingdom, shares his thoughts as a participant of the 2014 Conference in this article originally published in the Autumn 2014 issue of SHAKKEI, the Society’s quarterly newsletter. Mr. Hardman is also the Society’s Honorary Vice-President.
I recently attended the second conference of the North American Japanese Garden Association, which was held at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I was invited to give a lecture, my subject being Japanese Gardens in a Healing Context, in which I referenced and showed images of gardens the JGS has built at Willowbrook Hospice, Hatch Mill Nursing Home and Bury Hospice. I also showed Maureen Busby’s rooftop garden at the Great Ormond Street Hospital which members of JGS look after. Jill Raggett, who attended the first conference two years ago, was also a speaker in Chicago, so JGS was well represented.
NAJGA – The North American Japanese Garden Association was formed a few years ago by Steve Bloom, CEO of the Portland Garden; Jeanette Schelin, Director of the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden in Los Angeles; and Dr Kendall Brown, Professor of Asian Art History in the School of Art at California State University Long Beach. Steve Bloom was the first President of NAJGA, Kendall Brown being the current President. The Association is different from JGS in that its members are representatives of the large public gardens in the US and Canada: people who are garden designers, garden constructors, garden maintenance specialists and also some academics in the field of Japanese arts. Essentially a professional and trade organisation although there are a few members of the general public who have an interest in Japanese gardens. This was their second bi-annual conference, the first being in Denver in 2012.
The NAJGA membership profile reflects the different nature of Japanese gardens in North America when compared with the UK. There are many more public gardens, mostly much bigger than anything we have in the UK (that at the Chicago Botanic Garden covering 17 acres for example), consequently requiring a significant body of experienced professionals to look after them. In addition, new large gardens are being created, with recent ones focussing on healing. Also there are clearly some very significant private gardens that similarly require expert maintenance.
The Conference – The five themes of the conference were: Health and Wellbeing, Design and Maintenance, Garden History, Education and Cultural Programming, and Business in the Garden. The 37 lectures were grouped into these themes, with sometimes four lectures going on at the same time, spread over the three days of the conference.
The conference was set up and run by Diana Larowe, Executive Director of NAJGA and her assistant, Kanako Yanagi. It was organisationally complex and was extremely well run in all aspects. The venue was excellent – Chicago Botanic Garden is huge, well endowed and consequently well cared for. It has a 17 acre Japanese garden with many old and well pruned pines. I suspect all the Japanese gardens in the UK would fit into this space.
Conference Delegates – There were 200 delegates, mostly US citizens including a significant number of Japanese, some Canadians, some Japanese from Japan and two of us from UK (Jill Raggett and myself). Delegates were generally ‘in the trade’ with only a few ordinary folk who just had an interest. As well as NAJGA members described above, there were representatives of large garden companies in Japan and representatives of the Garden Society of Japan, an association of leaders of garden companies, and Dr Makoto Suzuki, Director of the Tokyo Nodai Center for International Japanese Garden Studies. And JGS, of course. Jill Raggett attended as an academic at Writtle College, having also presented at the first conference in Denver two years ago. I attended as a representative of the JGS (though self-funded).
General reaction – Clearly Japanese gardens are a significant source of employment for many people in the US and Canada. There were specialists in building Sukiya-style buildings, ‘aesthetic pruners’, even specialist moss growers. In the UK we are tiny minnows in comparison, with no trade organisation, nor sufficient numbers to warrant forming one. This was a surprise to the US delegates I spoke to.
It was a great opportunity to meet and network with a wide range of people from the delegate group. Meeting the delegates was one of the main reasons for attending – the chance to meet important people and establish relationships with them. In return there was a very strong interest from the garden representatives for us to visit them and several potential speakers were interested in being invited to speak in the UK.
Lectures – The plenary sessions were excellent. The opening one was from Hoichi Kurisu, a highly revered designer of gardens in the US including many ‘healing’ gardens. ‘HK’, as he is known, talked about the increasing need for gardens as more and more people live in cities, predicted to be 80% by mid century. His theme was the need for more ‘ma’ or space in our lives, gardens being a very good source.
On the final day Dr Tomoki Kato, head of the largest garden company in Kyoto, spoke about the role of garden companies in maintaining the important gardens in Kyoto. His company looks after Murin-an amongst others and he explained how they had been undertaking serious long-term pruning work to restore the garden’s ‘Shakkei’ line to what was originally intended. He explained the company philosophy of considering maintenance as ‘fostering’, giving it a different connotation and long-term aspect, with a corresponding change in attitude of the company workers.
A final plenary session was hosted by Portland Japanese Garden, with Steve Bloom, Chief Executive Officer; Sadafumi Uchiyama, Garden Curator; and Diane Durston, Curator of Culture, Art and Education at the garden. Steve outlined a plan to set up a Japanese Garden Institute for Japanese Arts and Cultures, based in Portland. This would include an Academy for training in Japanese garden techniques and skills, with certification for successful attendees.
I attended all the sessions on Healing and Wellbeing, learning of several major and very successful projects in the US, mostly designed by Hoichi Kurisu. All these projects were on a huge scale, dwarfing what we have done in the UK. However people were genuinely impressed by what they saw that we had achieved on very small budgets.
Special ceremony – On the final day, I took part in a formal signing of the Accord between JGS and NAJGA. At the same ceremony another Accord was signed between NAJGA and the Garden Society of Japan.
Value to JGS – It was undoubtedly important for JGS to be seen at the conference, as it puts us ‘on the map’ so to speak. The public signing of the Accord signalled our importance. Personal contacts are particularly important and we will be following up on these over the coming year.
There was great interest in Shakkei and our plan to have it available via Pay-Pal (I had taken as many as I could carry, including some of our 20th anniversary edition as well as some copies of the Visions of Paradise booklet). Once Shakkei is available more easily overseas I think that we could expect, maybe initially by invitation, contributions from NAJGA members.
One outcome of the conference is a potential trip for JGS members to gardens on the West coast of Canada and the US. Managers of gardens there were very keen for us to visit and I am sure we would be made most welcome. This will be followed up in the coming months.
DATE & TIME: January 20 – May 15, 2015 Online course – access course materials any time that’s convenient for you!
DESCRIPTION: Journey to Japan without leaving your home! This course will introduce different styles of Japanese architecture and gardens and analyze the historical, cultural and political background that influenced the garden designs. It will examine various other art disciplines, such as painting, crafts, and literature. Online videos will present not only Japanese gardens and cultures but also bring about an understanding of the similarity and differences between Japanese culture and other Asian cultures and the role of Japanese gardens in North America.
INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Seiko Goto (email@example.com). Dr. Goto is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University. She is author of the book The Japanese Garden: Gateway to the Human Spirit (2003, Peter Lang Publishing) and has written chapters on Japanese Landscape Art for the Encyclopedia of World Environmental History (2003, Berkshire Publishing) and on Confucianism and Garden Design for Confucianism and Ecology (1998, Harvard University Press). She earned master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University and in Horticulture from Chibu University in Japan. Her research for her doctorate degree from Chibu University in Japan focused on the History of Japanese Gardens. She joined the faculty of Rutgers University in 2006.
This class is a great prelude to the workshop Dr. Goto will be running in Japan in 2015. Click here to download the pdf brochure about the trip of a lifetime!
Introduce major gardens and figures which played important roles in the development of Japanese garden design.
Introduce history of Japanese art.
Introduce the Japanese culture which influenced the development of Japanese garden design.
Understand the characteristics of the Japanese garden in its cultural context.
Understand the influence of the Japanese garden in the Western countries.
COURSE FORMAT: This course will use web-based education consisting of readings, review assignments, online threaded discussion, quizzes, two exams, and a paper.
Videos: You will begin each topic area by watching the video. Each week day, two new topics will be introduced through lecture video(s). One topic will be composed of 1-2 parts which will take 15-30 minutes. Each video contains 1-2 quizes. You are responsible for watching the video sometime during the week and taking the associated quiz by Friday midnight. The videos have references to other optional readings. You may use these to learn more about the topic and as reference for your answers for online quizzes.