Sakuteiki is most likely the oldest garden planning text in the world. It was written in the mid-to-late 11th century. During the Kamakura period, it was referred to as the Senzai Hisshō, or the Secret Selection on Gardens before it acquired the title Sakuteiki in the Edo period.
The unillustrated Sakuteiki is the first systematic record of the styles of gardening in the Heian period, which had been the product of oral tradition for many years. It precisely defines the art of landscape gardening as an aesthetic endeavor based on poetic feeling of the designer and the site. It enumerates five styles of gardening, including
- the "Ocean Style" (taikai no yō)
- the "Mountain Torrent Style" (yama kawa no yō)
- the "Broad River Style" (taiga no yō)
- the "Wetland Style" (numa ike no yō)
- the "Reed Style" (ashide no yō)
The Sakuteiki was written in a time during which the placing of stones was the most important part of gardening, and it literally defined the art of garden making, using the expression ishi wo tateru koto to mean not only stone placement but garden making itself. It advises the reader not only how to place the stones but also how to follow the "desire" of the stones.
- Tanaka, Tan. (1992). "Early Japanese Horticultural Treatises and Pure Land Buddhist Style: Sakuteki and Its Background in Ancient Japan and China" in Garden History: Issues, Approaches, Methods (John Dixon Hunt, ed.), p. 79.
- Takei, Jiro et al. (2001). Sakuteiki Visions of the Japanese Garden: A Modern Translation of Japan's Gardening Classic, p. 3 n1.
- Kuitert, Wybe. (2002). Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art, p. 30-52.
- Takei, p. 162.
- Takei, Jiro and Marc P. Keane. (2001). Sakuteiki Visions of the Japanese Garden: A Modern Translation of Japan's Gardening Classic. Boston, Massachusetts: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3294-3
- Kuitert, Wybe. (2002). Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art Honolulu: Hawaii University Press. (ISBN 0-8248-2312-5)
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