“The Modern Japanese Garden”

Watanabe, Toshio. “The Modern Japanese Garden.” Since Meiji: Perspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts, 1868-2000“, edited by J. Thomas Rimer, by Toshiko McCallum, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 2012, pp. 340–360. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqh84.19. Accessed 17 Mar. 2021.

Watanabe is exploring the value and meaning posed on Japanese gardens not only in Japan but also in Japanese-style gardens internationally. He prefaces this by explaining that the value and purpose of Japanese gardens have been altered by time and the observer, might that be the patron, gardener, connoisseur, locals, or a tourist. He also revisits the assumptions and definitions of “modern” and “Japanese”, using modern to refer to the time period 1860’s to 1960s and Japanese to the broad guiding aesthetic and philosophical ideas implemented in traditional Japanese style gardens. Watanabe concludes with several points, the first being that gardens in major cities of Japan are diversely centering around social gatherings and events. This evident in their designs such as the Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro, as space is transformed into a large-scale environmental experiment, blurring the lines between art and architecture. Another key point is the transnational context of Japanese gardens as a marker of Japanese identity for the Japanese embassy, company, or restaurant. Watanabe’s exploration of the meaning and value of Japanese gardens is one that considers the impact of globalization, but also the social landscape in Japan.

Author: Isma Mora

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