In a section on the planting of trees, the Sakuteiki (11th c.), Japan’s oldest extant text on the aesthetics of garden design, discusses the ideal site for the construction of a private residence. House-owners with less than perfect surroundings needn’t worry, however, as the text also clarifies that missing landscape features can be remedied by planting trees instead. Similar descriptions of an ideal site appear in the Hoki naiden (14th c.), a text containing a blend of esoteric Buddhism and yin yang thought, as well as in the Taishiden gyokurinshō (15th c.), a biography of Shōtoku Taishi written by the Hōryūji monk Kunkai (1386-1457). However, the three texts vary considerably in terms of the remedies suggested. In addition to briefly discussing the medicinal properties of the trees, this paper focuses on providing an explanation for the discrepancies between the texts by tracing their origin back to a similar tradition in China.
8 28 2011
13th International Conference of the European Association of Japanese Studies (EAJS)