The Japanese stone garden is an art form recognized around the globe. These gardens provide tranquil settings where visitors can shed the burdens and stresses of modern existence, satisfy an age-old yearning for solitude and repose, and experience the restorative power of art and nature. For this reason the value of the Japanese stone garden today is arguably even greater than when many of them were created.
Japanese Stone Gardens provides a comprehensive introduction to the powerful mystique and dynamism of the Japanese stone garden—from their earliest use as props in animistic rituals, to their appropriation by Zen monks and priests to create settings conducive to contemplation and finally to their contemporary uses and meaning. With insightful text and abundant imagery, this book reveals the hidden order of stone gardens and in the process heightens the enthusiast's appreciation of them.
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Writer and photojournalist Stephen MansfieldÆs work has appeared in over 60 magazines, newspapers and journals worldwide, including South China Morning Post and The Japan Journal. He resides in Japan, where he is a regular book reviewer for The Japan Times.From Booklist:
The term “stone garden” may sound like an oxymoron, but in Japan, for time out of mind, people have sensed that stones are charged with life. Considered “seats of the gods,” stones were placed in “purified” clearings that became the prototypes for Japan’s elegant dry-landscape gardens with their astonishing raked sand patterns. British-born, Japan-residing Mansfield, a versatile writer and photographer and Japanese garden expert, presents an illuminating history of this living art form in sharply focused text and image. He traces the influences of Shintoism, Taoism, and, most significantly, Zen Buddhism, and artfully delineates the aesthetics of stone, sand, and gravel arranged to embrace and transcend nature, embody impermanence and stillness, and inspire contemplation and serenity. By creating a vivid social context for the evolution of stone gardens over the centuries and portraying seminal master gardeners, Mansfield vitalizes this seemingly austere tradition. An in-depth tour of 15 masterpiece stone gardens ancient and contemporary throughout Japan further deepens our appreciation for these landscapes of aesthetic precision and meditative repose in a book as lovely and restorative as its subject. --Donna Seaman
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