Journey Through 100 of Japan’s Finest Gardens

Gate at Yoshikien, Nara, Japan

Marc Peter Keane in an American landscape architect who spent almost 20 years in Kyoto practicing landscape design. In fact, he was the first foreigner to receive a working visa as a landscape architect. Now back stateside, Keane maintains an office in upstate New York where he designs Japanese gardens for both public and private spaces. It’s hard to think of a better person to serve as a personal guide through 100 of Japan’s Finest Gardens.

Balance at Ryōanji, Kyoto, Japan

Keane spent a good part of 2015 visiting more than 100 Japanese gardens and photographing aspects he felt were particularly revealing about Japanese garden design. The resulting book, “Japanese Garden Notes,” contains some 400 beautiful color photographs of some of Japan’s most notable gardens.

What I particularly enjoyed about the book was that the gardens are divided into 6 sections that look at different elements. Intent & Time studies elements that are intentional (balancing stones) and those that require time (growing moss). Space & Passage discusses the way walls and stepping stones regulate the way we move through those space.

Keane’s book is available through Amazon.

Moss at Gioji, Kyoto, Japan

Water basin at Ritsurin Koen, Takamatsu, Japan

Pond edge at Rengeji, Kyoto, Japan

Frame at Moritei, Shimonoseki, Japan


  1. Kinda ironic how his last name is homonymous with the American academic, Donald Keene, who introduced so many Americans to Japanese literature through his essays and translations. Must be something in the name! Thank you for such great posts. Your blog is a favorite!

    • John – yes, that occurred to me as well and I had to check the spelling to assure myself they weren’t related!

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