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konichiwa from Amsterdam

Started by Harry, April 07, 2008, 04:37:07 pm

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Hello everybody,

Since about one and a half year I'am passionately interested in Japanese Garden Architecture and my (ambitious) goal is to ....... in time............ become a designer and builder of traditional Japanese gardens.

I have now read some 30 books about it and visited some 49 gardens in Kyoto july last year.

In the nineties I took bonsaiclasses for some three years and in 2006 and 2007 I have worked as a volunteer in a koishop for almost a year. During that time I visited Japan, the Niigata area, twice to buy nishikigoi.

April 18 I will fly to Kyoto again for a 14 day trip to visit Kyoto during the blossomseason ......... or am I late?

I have sent my application to Marc Keane to be allowed to take part in the Japanese Garden Intensive Seminar in Kyoto in oktober next.

Being a psychologist by profession I have no formal education/training in architecture nor in plant and tree-technology.

So I would like very much your advice on how to proceed to reach my goal.
Any advice is welcomed vary much

yours sincerely,



Welcome Harry, It sounds like you are taking your education very seriously and I am sure you will achieve your goal as a designer.  Passion and a love of what you do are two very important ingredients to succeed in any endeavor.

Good luck and welcome to our group.



Welcome Harry!  You have a good start.  While I have not had the priviledge of attending the Kyoto seminar, I would dearly love to.  Generally, my advice to learning in Japan; every minute you spend learning Japanese before you go will pay you back 10-fold.  Perhaps others that have attended can give you more info and advice.

As far as learning here, no one here has the time to attempt one on one general instruction (so far).  But as you will see as you browse, information flows and resources are listed. That said, some of the professionals in the forum do offer training.  You would have to contact them (or vise versa) if that interests you.  Just let them know.

Also, the forum is a part of Japanesegardening.org.  Links to the other resources as well as other relevant links are listed at http://www.japanesegardening.org .

Good to have you, Harry!


hello everybody,

Time for an update.
I shortly introduced myself about two and a half years ago, and since then a lot has happened.

Yes I have taken my passion for Japanese gardens serious.
In autumn 2008 I had the privilege to be invited to take part in the Japanese Garden Intensive Seminar (in Kyoto, organized on a yearly basis for 25 non-Japanese people; more info elsewhere in this forum). I had a great time there: for two weeks Wybe Kuitert did a great job continuously coaching the student group through the varied and interesting program, mediating, explaining and translating or organizing when necessary or when needed. I learned a lot and visited many gardens. Actually i think the seminar is a bargain: had i visited Kyoto on my own I would surely have spent the same amount of money. So if you get a chance don't hesitate.
One of the effects of being part in the seminar is that it, and the students in it, gave me a lot of confidence and self-confidence: if you read the right books, visit as many gardens in Japan as possible, do the seminar, adopt an attitude of continuous willingness to learn ...... and be lucky enough to find a client who believes in your passion and is willing to accept the fact that you are not an experienced Japanese garden designer ...... then why not just DO it :-), ..... I thought.

And so I did: I'am still reading as much as possible about Japanese gardens, went to Japan 7 times in the last 4 years where I visited some 250 gardens, did the seminar, found the willing client in september 2009 ....... and decided to just do it. So in december 2009 I started my website: www.dokuza.nl (in dutch, translations into English and German are yet to come) and are now designing and building a landscape-garden, a kare sansui and a roji on the property of my client (may I invite you to look around on my site. Under the header 'projecten': Ryu teien, te Kapellen you find a photo-documentary of the development of the landscape-garden until now).
The work is making my client and me very happy and gives us lots of satisfaction and we both think that the outcome of the project is looking beautiful:-)
...... and of course things don't always work out the way ...... and of course I make mistakes ......., and of course I hope that in 5 years I will probably do it different .... and hopefully better because the actual doing shows me, not only what i know and can, but especially teaches me the skills and information I am actually still missing. The actual doing makes me very conscious of this.

So my next step in my desire to become a good Japanese garden designer is not only to find more clients and build more gardens..... but above all to spend much much more time preferably in Japan, with a sensei who is willing to teach me more about the practice of designing and building Japanese gardens. Actually I believe the best thing to do would be to just go there for a year or more and learn all the things I still will have to learn.
So my first concern is that I will have to find a sensei:-) and then ......
If anyone of you is having ideas, suggestions, know people, addresses, advise, tips ....... that might help? I would be very pleased and grateful.

Anyway, in due time I hope to give you an update of new developments, be it about the gardens I'am building, eventual new garden projects or ofmy next step(s) in my learning process.



Quote from: don on April 07, 2008, 07:49:45 pmGenerally, my advice to learning in Japan; every minute you spend learning Japanese before you go will pay you back 10-fold.  Perhaps others that have attended can give you more info and advice.

Welcome, Harry.

While my experiences in Japan are related far more specifically to pottery, not gardens per se, I strongly second don's comments.




Hi Harry,

i am looking at your progress with the garden for your client for some months now, and i like it very much, also the way your present it on your website is very nicely done.

I can not help you with your question, but wish you a lot of success.


www.japansetuin.com  (we emailed a few times before).

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