cover image Create Your Own Japanese Garden: A Practical Guide

Create Your Own Japanese Garden: A Practical Guide

Motomi Oguchi, , with Joseph Cali. . Kodansha, $29.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-4-7700-2804-4

Oguchi, longtime designer of Japanese gardens and author of more than 18 books on the subject in Japanese, offers English speakers both an overview and practical knowledge of this easily recognized but to many Westerners mysterious art form. Oguchi describes the Japanese garden’s relation to architecture from the ancient era to the mid–19th century, tracing its evolution from the lavish hills, ponds and waterfalls of early estates to the inward-turning, abbreviated and abstracted gardens of urban townhouses. He calls the guidelines of Japanese garden design “naturalness, studied tastefulness, and harmony,” tempered by flexibility for “site conditions, current needs and desires, and self-expression,” and presents essential “design devices” such as asymmetry, miekakure (hide and reveal). Most of the book gives concrete details on how to design and build a garden for the home or small business, using as examples the author’s designs for restaurants, homes and his traditional teahouse. With precise instructions and illustrations for building typical elements such as bamboo fences and stone bridges, the book gives Americans all the information they need to create authentic Japanese gardens. The lack of a glossary may make it hard for readers to retain meanings of the many Japanese terms strewn throughout the text. (Aug.)