Senior Landscape Architect Sophie Parker-Loftus recently returned from an extended holiday in Japan exploring its gardens and landscapes, below she shares some of her insights and favourite destinations.
Sophie's travels took her through the buzzing cityscapes of Tokyo, the mountainous regions of Nikko with their famous temples set in wooded to landscapes, the world renowned Kenrokuen garden in the coastal town of Kanazawa, the Kyotos gardens and temples, the art island of Naoshima and the landscape of Mount Fuji to name a few.
One of the highlights of Sophie’s trip was the Kenrokuen garden in Kanazawa. Kenrokuen ranks amongst the three top gardens in Japan and quite rightly so. According to Oriental Garden theory, it combines all the six essential characteristics of a perfect garden – a rarely fulfilled combination. Kenrokuen, ‘The Garden of the Six Sublimities’, is perfectly encapsulated in name and spirit with its balance of spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views.
After submerging herself into the vastness and splendour of the gardens of Kyoto, Sophie left the mainland to visit the remote Art Island of Naoshima, also often referred to as ‘Ando Island’. Tadao Ando’s architecture follows the natural forms of the landscape, built into the earth thus leaving little imprint on the existing landscape. Visitors are taken on subterranean journey which allows them to enjoy works by artists such as Monet, Walter De Maria and James Turrell in the most unique way. The Art House Project which transformed a series of abandoned houses into venues for art installation has given the small port town of Honmura new life. The success of Naoshima has influenced surrounding islands to follow suit which Sophie is sure to visit on her next trip….