Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Author Christian Tschumi recently authored an article for Landscape Journal, "Between Tradition and Modernity: The Karesansui Gardens of Mirei Shigemori."
Here is the abstract for the article:
Mirei Shigemori (1896–1975) created gardens in Japan between 1925 and 1975. While refusing to reproduce traditional gardens because they lacked any sense of modernity, he also refused to imitate European gardens because they were out of touch with Japanese culture. He saw the ancient roots of the Japanese garden in the memory of nature and the spirits that occupy it. Shigemori shared with traditionalists a deep interest in the study of the gardens of the past. With modernists he shared a definite will to innovate and to use modern means of expression, both technically and graphically. This enabled him to create a new approach to the ancient karesansui, or dry landscape garden, a style where little innovation had taken place over the past centuries. Educated initially as a painter, Shigemori approached garden design as an outsider; this is key to understanding why it was possible for him to renew the karesansui garden in the ways he did. Though he has been neglected by writers of the history of the Japanese garden, Shigemori's approach is significant because it explores what a karesansui garden can be in the context of 20thcentury Japan while remaining close to its cultural roots. This article is based on numerous translations of Shigemori's writings, interviews with people he worked with, visits to many of his gardens, and a comparative analysis of 184 of his original design drawings made accessible for the first time since his death 30 years ago.