Gardens of Awakening: A Guide to the Aesthetics, History, and Spirituality of Kyoto's Zen Landscapes (Hardcover)

Gardens of Awakening: A Guide to the Aesthetics, History, and Spirituality of Kyoto's Zen Landscapes By Kazuaki Tanahashi, Mitsue Nagase (Photographs by) Cover Image
By Kazuaki Tanahashi, Mitsue Nagase (Photographs by)
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Renowned artist Kaz Tanahashi reveals the deep, inner spiritual connections that Zen gardens can foster, with over 75 stunning full-color photos of the masterpiece gardens of Kyōto, Japan.

Imagine yourself in Kyōto, Japan, gazing at an ancient temple garden. How would you contextualize what you are seeing? What is the history of this centuries-old contemplative art form of Zen gardening? What are its symbols and concepts?

Richly illustrated with full-color photographs, Gardens of Awakening guides you through a series of Zen temple gardens, most of which were created from the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries. Some are teeming with plants and flowing water, while others have only rocks and sand. All share in the Zen aesthetics of awakening.

Through essays and commentary on Mitsue Nagase’s striking photographs, beloved Zen artist and translator Kazuaki Tanahashi presents the gardens in terms of seven qualities that arise from Zen practice: direct, ordinary, vigorous, gleaming, pivotal, nondual, and inexhaustible. Relating these qualities to the development of Zen culture and its influence on Japanese art, Gardens of Awakening invites you deep into the heart of Zen.

About the Author

KAZUAKI TANAHASHI is an artist and Buddhist scholar active in the United States, originally from Japan. He has visited Zen gardens in Kyōto almost every year for the past three decades. His many publications include Penetrating Laughter: Hakuin’s Zen and Art, and Sky Above, Great Wind: Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan.

MITSUE NAGASE is a photographer, dividing her time between her native Japan, Germany, and the US. Her photography is based on her studies in Zen Buddhism and of Miksang, a contemplative approach to photography as a spiritual practice, which she also teaches. For further information about her work and activities check:

Praise For…

“This gorgeous book reflects the rare and beautiful art of gardens in Japanese culture. A treasury of insights and images that will inform and delight the reader and viewer.”
Joan Halifax, author of Being with Dying and Standing at the Edge

“At heart, Kyoto is a city of gardens; many are centuries-old and masterpieces of Zen principles and aesthetics. Countless books have been published about them, yet this one is quintessentially different. Here, these gardens are interpreted through Tanahashi’s life experience—his practice of Zen, his deep knowledge of temple and garden history, and, most significantly, his own unique view as an artist. Supporting his chosen aspects of each garden are the clear and beautiful photographs of Mitsue Nagase.”
John Einarsen, founding editor of Kyoto Journal

“Remarkable in scope and breathtaking beauty, the writing and photographs in Gardens of Awakening transmit the ineffable and timeless serenity, stillness, and wonder in the incomparable Zen gardens of Kyōto. The combined expressive talents of Tanahashi and Nagase help readers to awaken these same qualities within themselves. Complete with Tanahashi’s exquisite rendering of the historical intertwining of Zen gardens, aesthetics, and art, there is no other book on the subject quite like this. What a gift!”
Peter Levitt, cotranslator of Yin Mountain: The Immortal Poetry of Three Daoist Women and author of Fingerpainting on the Moon: Writing and Creativity as a Path to Freedom

“Whether you are new to Zen or a longtime student or practitioner of Buddhism, you will cherish Gardens of Awakening. With a rare combination of high erudition and charming familiarity, Kazuaki Tanahashi displays an intimate knowledge of Japanese Buddhism and aesthetics in general, and of Zen in particular. Beyond mere knowledge, however, the pairing of Tanahashi’s text with Mitsue Nagase’s exquisite images is itself an invitation to awakening. In the quiet heart of a clamorous world, there is a garden of gardens. Let this book take you there.”
Sean Kelly, author of Becoming Gaia: On the Threshold of Planetary Initiation

“Gorgeous words, generous photos. Walk in the mind garden, Zen garden, Japanese garden. All the same in this wonderful book. Transforms how to think, not grasp, not two, not one, at peace with it all. Thank you, Kaz and Mitsue. We all bow.”
Natalie Goldberg, author of Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage to the Heart and Homeland of Haiku
Product Details
ISBN: 9781645472056
ISBN-10: 1645472051
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 184
Language: English