Sukiya Living Magazine (JOJG) Issue #78

November/December 2010


COVER PHOTO: Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama.  This stunning path through a madake forest is flanked by beautiful fences made from bamboo branches.  Want to see this in person?  Join JOJG's Kyoto Walking Tour that is offered every May and October.

PUBLISHER'S ESSAY: Docents Should Say Less.  Tour guides and the docents at public Japanese gardens are one of the biggest sources of mis-information about the Japanese tradition.  Those volunteers will will be more effective if they say less and instead let visitors experience the gardens with their own bodies and senses, and at their own pace.

VIEWPOINTS: Wildlife Invitation?  Essays by Tamao Goda, Nobuhiko Kobayashi, Bill Castellon, James T. Hanselman, Masashi Oshita, Timothy J. Hansken, and Michael Alliger.  Here is what some Japanese garden experts had to say when we asked them, "Should wildlife be invited into sukiya-style gardens?"

STONE SETTING: Don't Compromise Long-term Beauty.  Some garden builders make the mistake of being charmed by moss and lichen and setting boulders in order to show off that kind of weathering.  This is the wrong way to go about setting stones in Japanese gardens.  Read this article to learn why.

STREAM CONSTRUCTION: The Advantage of Flat Streambeds.  Gently-flowing yari-mizu streams are meant to emphasize the easy movement and flow of water.  When creating such streams, care must be given to the depth of the water and the stream's gradient.  Having flat stream bottoms makes doing this much easier.

BASIC PRUNING: Hedge Maintenance, by Asher Browne.  This long article reviews hedge basics.  The discussion includes plant selection, types of hedges, hedge position, and hedge maintenance.  A very thorough and informative article.

INTERIORS: A Plethora of Tansu, by Tamao Goda.  The traditional Japanese home doesn't normally have a lot of furniture, but handsome chests known as tansu are one common item.  This article reviews the various types of tansu chests that an enthusiast mught want to purchase and display in their (Western) home.

ADVANCED PRUNING: S-shaped Trunks and Branch Selection.  Specimen trees normally have only one branch emerging from the trunk at any particular elevation.  That branch normally emerges from the convex side of a winding tree trunk.  Sound confusing?  Read this article and you'll understand the concept fully.

JAPANESE GARDEN MYTHS: Don't be Fooled by the Dwarf Plant Ploy.  Some Westerners make the mistake of thinking that Japanese gardens are "shrunken down" versions of natural scenes.  This is not the case.  The same uninformed individuals tend to think that dwarf plants are appropriate for Japanese gardens.  This, too, is a myth.  Dwarf plants might be appropriate, but it isn't because they are small in stature.  This article explains why.

GARDENS IN JAPAN: Rikugi-en - A Stroll through a Rare Tokyo Green Space, by Adrian Bennett.  This garden profile is about Rikugi-en, a large stroll garden in central Tokyo.  The garden has an interesting history and an equally beautiful layout, featuring a large lake, hidden teahouses, and fabulous tamamono shrubs.

LETTERS, Q&A: Exposed Foundations.  Here's why exposed foundation walls are incongruent with sukiya living environments.  Other questions inquire about "functional" stepping stones, major posts in Japanese houses, using a dry garden to disguise a drainage ditch, and the real mean of the word "sukiya."

CALENDAR OF EVENTS: The latest news and events that you can attend.  Want to attend a pruning class that focuses on Japanese pruning techniques?  How about a workshop on Japanese carpentry or a lecture about Japanese interiors?  Check here for listings.

SUKIYA LIVING MARKETPLACE.  Japanese Garden specialists and other professionals.  Information about reaching gardeners, carpenters, stoneyards, merchants, and other sukiya living professionals.

TRAVEL TO JAPAN: JOJG's Kyoto Walking Tour.  Without question, JOJG's walking tour is the very best way to explore Japan's finest homes and gardens.  Travel to Japan and join us on this special journey!

BACK COVER: "Shono," by Hiroshige.