Shunmyo Masuno, Japan's leading garden designer, is at once Japan's most highly acclaimed landscape architect and an 18th-generation Zen Buddhist priest, presiding over daily ceremonies at the Kenkoji Temple in Yokohama. He is celebrated for his unique ability to blend strikingly contemporary elements with the traditional design vernacular. He has worked in ultramodern urban hotels and in some of Japan's most famous classic gardens. In each project, his work as a designer of landscape architecture is inseparable from his Buddhist practice. Each becomes a Zen garden, "a special spiritual place where the mind dwells."
This beautiful book, illustrated with more than 400 drawings and color photographs, is the first complete retrospective of Masuno's work to be published in English. It presents 37 major gardens around the world in a wide variety of types and settings: traditional and contemporary, urban and rural, public spaces and private residences, and including temple, office, hotel and campus venues. Masuno achieved fame for his work in Japan, but he is becoming increasingly known internationally, and in 2011 completed his first commission in the United States which is shown here.
Zen Gardens, divided into three chapters, covers: "Traditional Zen Gardens," "Contemporary Zen Gardens" and "Zen Gardens outside Japan." Illustrated with photographs and architectural plans or sketches, each Zen garden design is described and analyzed by author Mira Locher, herself an architect and a scholar well versed in Japanese culture.
Celebrating the accomplishments of a major, world-class designer, Zen Gardens also serves as something of a master class in Japanese garden design and appreciation: how to perceive a Japanese garden, how to understand one, even how to make one yourself. Like one of Masuno's gardens, the book can be a place for contemplation and mindful repose.
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Mira Locher is an architect and professor who works in both the U.S. and Japan. She holds degrees from Smith College and the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for Team Zoo Atelier Mobile in Japan for seven years before setting up an architectural practice, Kajika Architecture, in partnership with Takayuki Murakami in the U.S. She is an Associate Professor at the College of Architecture & Planning at the University of Utah. She is the author of Traditional Japanese Architecture: An Exploration of Elements and Forms and Super Potato Design: The Complete Works of Takashi Sugimoto: Japan's Leading Interior Designer.Review:
"Shunmyo Masuno restores nature in Japan within a corner of urban space. His gardens bring comfort to people who tire of dry city life by cleansing their souls." —Toyo Ito, internationally acclaimed award-winning architect and founder of Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects
"This stunning book illustrates many (but probably not all) of Shunmyo Masuno's oeuvre. Not only are there outstanding images but the text accompanying them is interesting, readable and informative. This is highly recommended to all members interested in modern interpretations of Japanese gardens. Masuno is arguably the most important designer to have emerged in Japan in the last 20 years. ... If you haven't already bought this book, I unhesitatingly commend it to you." —Shakkei blog
"Locher's stunning presentation highlights 37 master gardens in Japan and abroad (including in the U.S.) that embody a transcendent marriage between the primal elements of nature and metaphysics. [...] With 320 color photos and designs, Locher captures the mystery and mastery of Masuno's work." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"This showcase of the work of Japanese garden designer Shunmyo Masuno marries clear exposition of the designer's philosophy with drop-dead gorgeous color art." —Publishers Weekly, 2012 Best Book, Gardening
"Zen Gardens endorses a spiritual approach to the process of garden design, whereby the design and its inherent aesthetic qualities are allowed to grow from the place, rather than being imposed on it. Illustrated with more than 400 drawings and colour photographs, this book is a wonderful source of inspiration for creating beautiful, contemplative landscapes."— Garden Design Journal
"Even just a quick riffle through the pages of Zen Gardens: The Complete Works of Shunmyo Masuno can cause a healthy lowering of one's blood pressure. Seeing such tranquil spaces in our generally chaotic world offers an escape to an oasis of serenity, or what Shunmyo Masuno himself calls an "unmoving truth." [ ... ] Author Mira Locher, an architect and professor based in the United States and Japan, is an excellent guide to this tour of Masuno's work, explaining key elements of Zen and Japanese design and the complexity of such calm splendor. [ ... ] Zen Gardens: The Complete Works of Shunmyo Masuno is surely best approached just as one would enter a Masuno garden—with a sense of quiet, curious wonder at how man and nature can sometimes meet as one." —ForeWord Reviews
"Shunmyo Masuno has chosen the most determinate and primal material of all to work with: rock, a substance that ages but does not wither. Embracing tradition and modernity, these gardens are expressive of a keen intelligence and profound knowledge of Japanese culture, yoked with an artist's perspective on landscape. Visionary garden designers like this appear perhaps once in a single generation, if that." —Stephen Mansfield, author of Japan's Master Gardens and Japanese Stone Gardens
"Shunmyo Masuno's oeuvre of thoughtful and thought-provoking designs represents an important contribution to the world of gardens and landscapes. From his training and life as a Zen priest, Masuno has developed a viewpoint and mindset that have strong contemporary relevance yet are clearly bound to Japan's long history of garden design. He is able with his artistry to transpose Japanese concepts to gardens all over the world to delight the eye and soul." —Cornelia Oberlander, landscape architect
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