THE JAPANESE GARDEN PROJECT
Much can be said about the Japanese reverence for the natural world. It is evident at every turn, in both public and private spaces. This is due, in part, to the practice of Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion. The Shinto ideal of harmony with nature and others is a high priority that is deeply set into the Japanese psyche. I find myself drawn quite naturally to this idea and the ways it reveals itself in the very fabric of daily life.
During the late 90's, my wife and I lived just south of the Yokohama-Tokyo border. Sadly, I was not pursuing photography at that time, but as we travel back to Japan on a regular basis I spend as much time as possible photographing, between family visits and time spent with friends. In 2007, I decided to focus my efforts on a project highlighting the traditional Japanese gardens of Tokyo.
For over 50 years the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association (an affiliated organization of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) has overseen the development and promotion of 77 parks within the city of Tokyo. Of those 77 parks, 9 are traditional Japanese gardens of one style or another, and are designated as special historic sites.
Most of these sites are located in the heart of overcrowded commercial/business districts and serve as ancient respites from the modern, frenetic pace of Tokyo. Like stepping back in time, I’m immediately charmed by this disparity; an experience that will likely be repeated for any visitor to this great land of contrasts.
It is in these natural spaces, surrounded by glass, steel, and concrete that I find opportunities to further understand the Japanese posture towards nature. I'm convinced that with every visit to one of these gardens my own photographic aesthetic is being shaped and transformed.
These photographs are a collection of my own personal discoveries about the Japanese aesthetic, and for that matter the Japanese people and their way of life.