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Nature in Miniature in Modern Japanese Urban Space: Tsuboniwa – Pocket Gardens

Tsuboniwa – Pocket Gardens

Agnese Haijima    University of Latvia    



This article is devoted to the study of the Japanese approach towards nature through the phenomenon of tsubo-niwa, which can be translated in various ways: ‘courtyard gardens’, ‘small gardens in a limited space’, ‘pocket gardens’. The Author traces their historical development and modern interpretation in recent architectural projects both for private residences and buildings for public use. Since the recent developments in architecture tend to blur the boundaries between traditional types of Japanese gardens and since tsubo can be translated as ‘small space’, the Author has included various types of small gardens of urban constructions into the discussion such as the entrance gardens or front gardens, rooftop gardens, balcony gardens, gardens under the ground level, pass-away gardens, tōri-niwa and other small gardens that are typical of Japanese urban constructions within a limited area. Through the discussion of Japanese attitude towards nature in different philosophical schools, the analysis of the historical development of Japanese gardens and formation of the Japanese attitude towards nature, as well as the studies of gardens themselves, the Author concludes that the nature that is found in Japanese gardens in any period of their existence has never been authentic like the wild nature. It is a product of Japanese philosophy, culture and it is adjusted to serve people’s needs. However, recent architectural and garden projects tend to reflect a more caring attitude towards nature, greater respect and a wish to take it closer to people’s lives and educate the younger generation in an eco-friendly way.

15 Dicembre 2017
11 Novembre 2016
04 Febbraio 2016

Keywords: Environmental PhilosophyCourtyard GardenTsubo-niwaNature

Copyright: © 2017 Agnese Haijima. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.