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Loss of historicity as Identity: The Theory of Japanese Garden by Josiah Conder

Watanabe, Toshio (2007) Loss of historicity as Identity: The Theory of Japanese Garden by Josiah Conder. In: Traditional Arts and Crafts in the 21st Century: Reconsidering the Future from an International Perspective. [Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > Japanese Society and Culture studies
Historical and Philosophical studies > History of Art]
 
Details
 
Creators:Watanabe, Toshio
Description:

The paper deals with Josiah Conder’s 1893 publication, ‘Landscape Gardening in Japan’, which is regarded as the standard work on Japanese garden in the West even today. However, a detailed examination of this book reveals that it has a very different view of the history of Japanese gardens from our own times: failing to illustrate two of what we now think of the most canonical gardens in Kyoto, and also not mentioning the spirituality of the Japanese garden at all. Both points had not been discussed by scholars of Japanese gardens previously. The paper investigates the reasons for these startlingly different views from our own times.

The paper situates Conder’s book within the Victorian Japonisme and the Aesthetic Movement and provides evidence that in order to encourage Westerners to build Japanese gardens, Conder stressed the abstract aesthetic values at the expense of historically and culturally specific components of the Japanese garden. The paper concludes by pointing out that, ironically, Conder tried to establish the identity of the Japanese garden in the West by denying its historicity.

Type of Research:Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information (Publicly available):

This paper was initially given at the 27th International Symposium of the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, the foremost centre for advanced studies in Japanese studies in the world. This large scale and week-long symposium was attended by scholars from across the world and most papers were given by experts from outside Japan with two mostly Japanese scholars being assigned to each paper as commentators. This paper is a revised version written after reflecting on the comments by the commentators.

The paper deals with Josiah Conder’s 1893 publication, Landscape Gardening in Japan, which is regarded as the standard work on Japanese garden in the West even today. However, a detailed examination of this book reveals that it seems to have a very skewed view of the history of Japanese gardens failing to illustrate two of the most canonical gardens in Kyoto and also not mentioning the spirituality of the Japanese garden at all. Both points had not been discussed by scholars of Japanese gardens previously. The paper investigates the reasons for these lacunae.

The paper situates Conder’s book within the Victorian Japonisme and the Aesthetic Movement and provides evidence that in order to encourage Westerners to build Japanese gardens, Conder stressed the abstract aesthetic values at the expense of historically and culturally specific components of the Japanese garden. The paper concludes by pointing out that ironically Conder tried to establish the identity of the Japanese garden in the West by denying its historicity.

This paper forms part of the author’s project of re-evaluating modern Japanese garden from a socio-political view point with an emphasis on its varied reception from 1860s to 1960s. Currently no other such publication/project exists.

Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date:01 October 2007
ID Code:1006
Deposited By:INVALID USER
Deposited On:07 Dec 2009 11:43
Last Modified:10 Sep 2010 16:01
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