The Sakuteiki, or "Records of Garden Making," was written nearly 1000 years ago, making it the oldest work on Japanese gardening; in fact, the oldest book on gardening in the world! In this edition of the Sakuteiki, the authors provide both an English-language translation of this classic work; and an introduction to the cultural and historical context that led to the development of Japanese gardening.
A Japanese court noble wrote the Sakuteiki during the Heian period (794-1184). During this critical era in Japanese history cultural influences on poetry, clothing-and gardening-that had been imported from China and Korea over the previous centuries were reexamined and reinterpreted into their unique Japanese forms. The Sakuteiki contains the first systematic record of this new gardening style-with both technical advice on gardening-building (much of which is still followed in today's Japanese gardens) and an examination of the four central threads of allegorical meaning which were integral features of Heian-era garden design.
Jiro Takei, professor emeritus of the Kyoto College of Art, taught a course on the Sakuteiki for many years. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he has been deeply involved in the study of Japanese gardens, as the Chairman of the Japanese Garden Academic Society (Nihon Teien Gakkai), regional chief of the Gardening Academic Society (Zoen Gakkai), and chief researcher of the Research Center for Japanese Garden Art (Nihon Teien Kenkyu Senta).