The Japanese Garden: 800 Years of the Art and Essence – An in-depth exploration spanning 800 years of the art, essence, and enduring impact of the Japanese garden.

The most comprehensive exploration of the art of the Japanese garden published to date, this book covers more than eight centuries of the history of this important genre. Author and garden designer Sophie Walker brings fresh insight to this subject, exploring the Japanese garden in detail through a series of essays and with 100 featured gardens, ranging from ancient Shinto shrines to imperial gardens and contemporary Zen designs. Leading artists, architects, and other cultural practitioners offer personal perspectives in newly commissioned essays.


In 2014 Sophie Walker became the youngest woman to design a garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Having studied art history, Sophie later qualified in horticulture, plant science, and garden design. Based in London, she practises globally. In addition to designing gardens, Sophie lectures on conceptual design, the Japanese garden, planting, and the garden environment.

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“There are many books that have been written on Japanese gardens, on their beauty, their philosophy and their history. What is so significant/exceptional about Sophie’s book is the way in which her essays unveil the very contemporary relevance of the subject. I love her writing; she brings the ancient art of these gardens into the context of today.”—Luciano Giubbilei, garden designer

“Sophie Walker: a name to watch.” —Independent

“The act of seeing, and the concentration of seeing, takes an effort. The gardens impose that effort on you if you want to see them. It’s another way of ordering your vision, and it slows down your vision.” —Richard Serra

“Japanese gardens present a world that is profoundly un-human. The driving principle is not anthropocentricism, but rather keeping in step with the providence of the universe.” —Lee Ufan

“The Japanese Garden offers an explanation of the semantic foundations of Japanese garden design… The book could act as a very good alternative guide to an ambitious horticultural trip. Rather, however, Walker’s point is that we should embrace the ethos of Japanese gardening – that it exists to transport our minds and build our inner worlds, rather than be used to expand our experience of what is around us – and channel that appreciation of nature into garden design… Japanese gardening isn’t so alien, as anyone who has found connection and peace in their garden will know. As Walker says: “Many a great thought has occurred while weeding the garden”. In Japan, the gardens are designed to encourage those who admire them to think, too.”—The Daily Telegraph, Gardening

“An incredible ode to the beauty and tranquillity of the country’s gardening tradition… Will make you want to book a flight to Kyoto immediately.”—

“A beautiful book.”—Spectator

“Just leafing through Sophie Walker’s The Japanese Garden brings a feeling of calm and tranquillity… Walker covers their history and meaning, unravelling a little of their mystery.”—The Sunday Times, Home: Gardening

“Packed with over 300 images and poetic prose, The Japanese Garden takes you on a journey… This isn’t just a book for keen gardeners, it’s a source of art and design ideas and concepts for anyone in need of inspiration and visual stimulation.”—

“A well researched and thorough book, offering fresh insights into the art, culture and aesthetics of the Japanese garden. The gardens featured have been carefully curated… The reader is taken on a journey of discovery through thought-provoking writing and beautiful imagery… [Sophie Walker] is passionate about her subject and the reader will find much of interest in her scholarly writing… This beautifully designed book will certainly open the reader’s eyes to the cultural wonder that is the Japanese garden.”—

“The Japanese Garden isn’t just filled with beautiful photographs but it traces 100 years of Japanese gardening history… Amazing photographs.”—

“This engaging book examines more than 90 magnificent gardens spanning 1,200 years of design. It offers fresh insight into the art of the Japanese garden.” —Town & Country online

“Recommended reading for potting shed and armchair… Even if it did not contain original essays by Tadao Ando, John Pawson and Anish Kapoor, this would a superior book… A must for anyone serious about the topic.” —Daily Telegraph, Gardening

“This book isn’t so much a ‘how-to’ for Japanese gardens as a ‘why’. Short essays shine light on individual gardens, while longer pieces examine philosophical and other issues of design. Even the book’s cover invites contemplation.”—Landscape Architecture Magazine

See also:
2018 Design Books Guide
How to Decorate Like a Pro: Free eBooks Collection

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