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Over 10,000 entries by enthusiasts around the world. The Japanese Garden Forum discussion boards include history, design & construction, maintenance, plants, stone, water, bamboo fences, structures, and more.

A list of Japanese gardening books, tools, & related items recommended & reviewed by the members of the Japanese Gardening Forum. Includes links to purchase from Amazon.com.

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  japanese gardening books & reviews

Recommendations and reviews from garden professionals and forum members. Amazon.com contrubutes 2 to 4 % of
sales originating from these pages directly for the maintenance of "japanesegardening.org." For many more Japanese
Gardening books & tools, click here.

The Art of Japanese Gardens  
Herb Gustafson

It is a wonderful book. - Gregory John



The Art of the Japanese Garden
David Young & Michiko Young

The book starts with an overview of the political and social development of Japan from the Jomon period through to the Meiji (only a couple of pages), then the development of the early gardens. Elements and Principles come next. Stones, structures, ornaments, water features, layout etc. The section with 24 traditional gardens, 3 Tokyo stroll gardens, 2 Meiji, 2 Showa, offers a short history and overview of each garden.  The book ends with 3 Japanese Gardens outside of Japan and a small read on modern residential gardens.

The book is well illustrated and loaded with excellent quality photographs.  Ar feature I liked were the 3/4 perspective drawings of each garden outlined in the book. Definitely recommended!

Al White

The Art of Setting Stones  
Marc Peter Keane

This book is a collection of essays by Marc Keane exploring the philosophical side of Japanese gardens. While having little to nothing to do with the actual task of setting stones, it made me feel I was in Kyoto, sitting in the garden, experiencing the deepest essence of that special place. I recommend this one for anyone with a love of Japanese gardens, whether you have been to Japan or not. It is pure magic - Don Pylant

Building Bamboo Fences  
Isao Yoshikawa

I have found "Building Bamboo Fences" by Isao Yoshikawa to be a very good book for both design and techniques - Frank Tree.

Chapman Nautical Guide to Knots
Brion Toss

This is a nice size book, dedicated mostly to sailing and boating applications. Hence, the name Chapman in the title.

Most of the illustrations are line drawings which makes referencing somewhat tedious compared to others.

This book was my third choice of the three review. - Fred Bender

The Complete Book of Knots 
Geoffrey Budworth

This book has 159 pages of knots each pictured with an Application and history of knot.

The illustrations of the process of tying each is two toned for fast application.
Each one is straight forward clearly describes.
Very Nicely done. - Fred Bender

Courtyard Gardens of Kyoto's Merchant Houses 
Katsuhiko Mizuno

Still reading this one, but so far, it provides a wonderfully illustrated evolution of machiya architecture in Kyoto, from reconstruction to modern day use, and the effect on their gardens. It has a simple primer on merchant house styles and visits examples of the gardens of many merchant houses. The photographs are excellent and the inspiration is top notch! - Don Pylant

(See the combined review of this book and Hidden Gardens of Kyoto below)

Creating Japanese Gardens
Philip Cave, Geoffrey Jellicoe

I almost didn't get Cave's book but it is truly beautiful. - Gregory John

Create Your Own Japanese Garden
Motomi Oguchi, Joseph Cali

As the title indicates, it's a practical guide. Oguchi indicates that one should read it through before deciding on design. It offers step by step decisions from problems of the site to solutions of why what was chosen. Useful Japanese words are used throughout. Even the chapter on "The Weed Garden" is a valuable lesson in garden making and saving money, time and 'design stress'. A chapter on Tea Gardens:Tree Gardens... this is nowhere near the 'do it in a weekend', yet makes anything do-able right from the beginning.

I needed to read some chapters twice just to allow the components to inter-relate from garden to garden examples. Diagrams of construction details, practical advice, along with explanations of word and conceptual origins. Fences, gates, paths, streams, ponds, bamboo work.. really easy to read until one realizes there is more than than first met the brain.

The jacket itself is from Oguchi-sensei's own teahouse that he had moved from Kyoto, revamped and the garden built. Thanks to both author's in bringing this book translation to English. I would say this is a 'must have'. - Edzard Teubert

Enhance Your Garden with Japanese Plants  
Judy Glattstein

An introduction to and history of Japanese plants in America is followed by sections describing and providing cultivation information. - Gregory John


The Garden Art of Japan  
Masao Hayakawa

It has striking pictures - a few colour plates, but most are in black and white. One powerful picture is of the stone arrangement in the upper garden, Saiho-ji, Kyoto. The author writes of it as '...a crystallization of the spirit of the great priest Muso Soseki - a spirit that truly revolutionized Japanese garden design in the medieval age.' He refers to the upper garden as representing 'the deeply ascetic outlook of Zen...' Chapter 4 is 'The World Of The Dry-Landscape Garden - Gardens for Zen Discipline'. It begins - 'Muso Soseki attempted to give physical form to his Zen Philosophy in the dry-landscape garden of Saiho-ji and the dry waterfall stone group in the garden of Tenryu-ji. Such gardens are in themselves a means towards Zen self-examination, spiritual refinement and ultimate enlightenment. They therefore belong to a dimension of creativity entirely different (my underlining) from that of gardens designed for pleasure or for the gratification of aesthetic tastes......' I found it difficult to put the book down. - Gregory John

Gardening The Japanese Way
Sima Eliovson

A big book with lots of color pictures and lots of advice on all aspects of Japanese style gardening. - Gregory John

The Gardens of Japan  
Teiji Itoh

Professor Itoh describes the history and explains various types of Japanese gardens. Specific gardens are described and photographed like the famous Saiho-hi and the temple Shinju-an at Daitoku-ji in Kyoto. In one chapter, the charateristics of 50 gardens in Japan are described. The main quality of this book is its stunning, large format photography, the main quality of this book. You get the impressiont you are in the gardens. If you've seen this book you are convinced of the qualities of a Japanese garden.


Gardens in Japan  
Mizuno Katsuhiko

Recommended by Jake Hobson. No review has been submitted.

The Hidden Gardens of Kyoto
Masaaki Ono

An inspirational collection of photos of palace, shrine, temple, tea school, villa, inn and restaurant gardens.  Absolutely gorgeous.  This one stays out on my table all the time. - Gregory John

I own several books on Japanese Gardening and can honestly say there aren't many that bring anything new. These books are different.  Most of the 100+ illustrations are of private gardens or obscure business's.  I am no scholar of Japanese Gardening but my instincts tell me the gardens of Kyoto are quite unique, even to Japanese Gardeners.  There seems to be a sense of simplicity, even sparseness, to Kyoto Gardens.  Both books focus on uncommon gardens with a little reserved for history, design, etc.  Neither of the books are a "How to." . - Cyberous

Infinite Spaces
Joe Earle

Pairs quotations from an ancient writing the Sakuteiki on garden design with exquisite photos that illuminate the words. - Gregory John

Japanese Courtyard Gardens  
Haruzo Ohashi

A beautiful picture book that gives a nice sampling of small gardens -- including those in private residences hotels and inns and temples/shrines. - Gregory John


Japanese Garden Construction  
Samuel Newsom

No review has been submitted.



Japanese Garden Design
Marc P. Keane, Haruzo Ohashi

Reading such a smooth introduction to Japanese gardens was a pleasurable experience. - Gregory John

A Japanese Garden Journey: Through Ancient Stones and Dragon Bones 
Judith Klingsick

I know it is a small hardcover book: 44 pages. - Gregory John

It is a pleasant booklet of 48 or so pages with pictures from North American Japanese gardens. But I wouldn't call it a journey - maybe a field trip. - Don Pylant

Japanese Stone Gardens  
Isao Yoshikawa

No review posted

Japanese Gardens  
Gunter Nitzske

Has wonderful photos of classic garden concepts - Gregory John



Japanese Gardens  
Josiah Conder

No review has been submitted.




The Japanese Tea Garden  
Marc Peter Keane

I just started reading this one and so far it is excellent.

- Don Pylant


The Japanese Tea Garden - paperback edition 
Marc Peter Keane

Contains all the same info, color plates and diagrams, but less expensive!

- Don Pylant


A Japanese Touch for your Garden 
Kiyoshi Seike Masanobu Kudo, David H. Engel

Has a wealth of practical information. - Gregory John

Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America 
Kendall H. Brown

This new publication by professor of Asian art history at Cal State Long Beach and Japanese Gardening authority, Kendall Brown, offers insight and appreciation of North American Japanese gardens.

Landscape Gardening in Japan  
Josiah Conder

This book has numerous reproductions of the black-and-white woodblock prints from these Edo period gardening manuals, as well as fascinating photos of famous (plus some just plain weird) gardens taken during the Meiji era. (For instance, see Kinkakuji with the pond choked with aquatic weeds on page 171). A really fun book for reference (would not recommend using it to design a garden) - Gregory John

Landscapes For Small Spaces  
Katsuhiko Mizuno

No review has been submitted.


Magic of Trees and Stones  
Katsuo Saito, Sadaji Wada

just quite simply the best book(english language) on the subject.

Jumps right into the middle of things with a pretty good explanation of "shibusa", really good pictures particularly with shin/gyo/so paths, nice planning and construction drawings. - Michael Brenner

The Morrow Guide to Knots  
Bigon and Regazzoni

I Love this Book. 647 Pages of Illustrative color photographs. Easy to use , great description of knot applications and tying demos. Each knot is tied in contrasting line colors to make it easy to understand the Ins and outs. - Fred Bender

Jake Hobson

Well written and well done! I have not encountered a western book that addresses these techniques. Jake, you've neatly, simply explained them. I really would have appreciated this book 30 years ago.

Not a 'science' book, but a workhorse or more correctly a working tool, providing a framework for what may be done in North America by addressing what is done in Japan. Simply put, this book needs to be out in the garden working with you. - Edzard Teubert

Sakuteiki Visions of the Japanese Garden
Jiro takei, Marc P. Keane

No review has been submitted.





Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens  
David A. Slawson

What sets this work apart is its depth and focus on unraveling the underlying design principles and its intent on providing a deeper understanding into the art of Japanese gardening. - Gregory John


Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art 
Wybe Kuitert

(ISBN 0-8248-2312-5) The best English-language treatment of Japanese garden history available. It's a bit hard to work through, but that's partly due to the meatiness of the material. I found it worked perfectly well to read its chapters out of order, following any thread I was particularly interested in. The index and bibliography (both J & E) are excellent and Wybe gives a very extensive glossary including kanji/kana. - Gregory John

Zen Gardening  
Sunniva Harte

Those of you turned off by reference to a Zen reference to Japanese gardens, get past that and understand this book's focus on the calming and healing properties of gardens. I would strongly recommend this book for inspirational value. - Don Pylant



Japanese Tools

Okatsune Pruners 

These pruners are used and highly praised by some Japanese Gardening Forum members.



Gomboy 210 Saw 

These saws are used and highly praised by some Japanese Gardening Forum members.



Okatsune Hedge Shears  

I will be honest and say I never developed a feel for the traditional Japanese mongata shears (the ones with the long handles and loose fitting blades).  But that is my error and not the fault of the shears.   Okatsune makes this 7 5/8" bladed shear that I love.  The blades stay sharp as long as you don't let anyone use them as pruners!  I have used them for hours.  The blade fit is more western like scissors, not loose like iron shears. 30" overall length.

Don Pylant

Tea and Tea Cuisine

A. L. Sadler

A book on the Way of Tea. No review posted

Kaiseki: Zen Tastes in Japanese Cooking
Kaichi Tsuji

This book is a great overview of Urasenke Kaiseki with great photos of food in museum quality dishes. - Elliot

A Feast for the Eyes: Japanese Art of Food Arrangement
Yoshio Tsuchiya

This book speaks on food arrangement and is excellent. - Elliot

Japanese Language Books

A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Seiichi Makino, Michio Tsutsui

This book is not reviewed yet.


A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar  
Seiichi Makino, Michio Tsutsui

This book is not reviewed yet.


Japanese Carpentry

The Genius of Japanese Carpentry  
Azby Brown

Japanese carpentry. No review posted

Measure and Construction of the Japanese House 
Heino Engel

The book gives not only elevation drawings ala blueprint style, but very good line drawings covering everything you might be able to think of.  I firmly believe there is sufficient information here to build a Japanese style house right from scratch.  So if you want to build something, I would certainly recommend this book. - Keith Elliot




Dear Cloud: Letters Home from a Long Distance Traveler 
Marc Peter Keane

This is a new writing from Mr. Keane taking the form of short letters written home to the enigmatic (and silent) "cloud." The book describes the experience of life in its many forms. With "Dear Cloud," Keane shifts focus from his traditional subject of Japanese gardens to nature as a whole. If this book carries anything of the power of his "The Art of Setting Stones," it will be a winner.

Dear Cloud: Letters Home from a Long Distance Traveler [Kindle Version] 
Marc Peter Keane

This is a new writing from Mr. Keane taking the form of short letters written home to the enigmatic (and silent) "cloud." The book describes the experience of life in its many forms. With "Dear Cloud," Keane shifts focus from his traditional subject of Japanese gardens to nature as a whole. If this book carries anything of the power of his "The Art of Setting Stones," it will be a winner.

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