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About Shunmyo Masuno : Shunmyo Masuno, born in 1953 in Tsurumi-ku Yokohama city, is one of the world’s preeminent Japanese garden designers, a landscape architect, a professor at Tama Art University and an eighteenth-generation Zen priest at the Kenko-ji Temple in Yokohama. In 2001 he was appointed Head priest of Kenko-ji Temple. Renowned for his ability to blend modern design with traditional Japanese design, Shunmyo Masuno has established gardens around the world -traditional and contemporary, urban and rural, public and private - in a wide variety of settings that include temple, office, hotel, and campus venues. Masunos overriding philosophy is that “the garden is a special spiritual place in which the mind dwells.” As a designer, his spiritual code guides all his works. For Masuno there is a difference between western ideals of beauty and the Japanese concept of beauty. Western beauty, for the most part, is focused on symmetry and perfection. This “completion” prevents the viewer from imagining anything else but what they see. The Japanese concept of beauty focuses on asymmetry, and imperfection/ incompletion. The imperfection is where the soul of the artist is expressed and identifiable. His zen garden is intended to be viewed from specific viewpoints, to calm the mind and soul. As Masuno says, “You gaze upon the garden as though it is a picture.” It is a tool of concentration. The another intention of the zen garden is to create “natural scenery,” a miniaturized version of the world, where one contemplates your place in the earth. The contrasts in the garden is designed to contain “emptiness” and its that emptiness that gives the garden its meaning, and allows the mind to dwell in the space. With that emptiness, an element of tension is introduced, and that tension focuses the mind.
Most people view the garden as an object that deserves appreciation, a place where they plant flowers and trees, a room to spend time with family and friends.
When asked what the garden means, Shunmyo explains, the garden is a special spiritual place in which the mind dwells. The gardens he creates are the places which hold his expressions of mind.
Shunmyo has been an ardent student of Muso Soseki, a famous ishidate-so who lived during the thirteenth century. He wrote, "There is nothing special in water and mountain, there is special only in the mind of people."
Shunmyo's interpretation of this is that the spirit of seeking truth holds far more importance than the act of garden making.
A second Zen priest Shunmyo often turns to for spiritual guidance is Ikkyu, a fifteenth century priest and scholar whose teachings had a great influence on many cultured men of the time. One of these was Murata Jukoh who established the foundation for the Tea ceremony. Murata developed the heart of host to humbly receive guests as an expression of oneself in Zen. This strong emotional tie of Zen and Tea has survived through the centuries.
Through Zen ascetic practice an emotion of the mind is found that can't be directly exposed or understood. One must therefore discover ways to communicate this emotion to others. That is, "the expression of oneself." The Zen Priest has traditionally turned to such classical arts as calligraphy, Ikebana, and rock placement. The venue of expression is not of major importance, choose an outlet where interests lie.
Shunmyo considers both viewing and creating gardens his most critical moments of ascetic practice. A famous Zen saying is, "when venomous snake drinks water, it becomes poison. When cow drinks water it becomes milk". This suggests that whether the garden becomes poison or milk is dependent on the creator.
Shunmyo always approaches garden making with both fear and affection. He accepts that it cannot be any better than his ability. The limiting factor is the spiritual plain achieved thus far through his ascetic practice. The successful garden is the other self, a mirror of his mind.
Shunmyo refers to gardening as his spiritual training ground in his quest of a higher understanding of himself. His inner feelings, deep emotions whether positive or negative are always expressed in his work.
Japan Landscape Consultants Ltd.
1975, Bachelor of Agriculture, Tamagawa University
1982 - now, Principal of JLC, Yokohama/Japan
2014, Stone Sculpture Exhibition, Grand Millennium Plaza, Cosco Tower, Hongkong/China
2014, Stone Sculpture Exhibition, World Financial Center, Shanghai/China
1997, "National Grand Prize", "Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture" in the field of design and works
1999, Annual Award from the Ministry of Education (as art category)
2003, Minister’s Award from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2005, GALA SPA Award (special prize)
2005, Meritorious Service Medal from Canadian Government
2006, Cross of the Order of Merit, from the Federal Republic of Germany
2005, TV documentary"21st Century Garden Art : Shunmyo Masuno", Arte TV
2008, TV program 30min "Special Lecture for elementary school as an honored alumni", NHK
2012, TV documentary "The Spirit of Zen in a Japanese Garden", NHK world
2016, TV discussion "Switch interview Specialists", NHK education
2017, TV program "Direct Talk" NHK world
2003, "Inside Japanese Garden: from basic to planning, management and improvement", the Commemorative Foundation for the International Garden and greenery exposition, Osaka/Japan, ISBN 4-620-90636-0
2005, "Musoh-soseki : Zen priest who established the secrets of Japanese garden",NHK Books/Japan ISBN4-14-091029-1
2008, "Zen and Garden as Zen Art", Daily News Press, Japan, ISBN 978-4-620-60633-0
1995, "PROCESS ARCHITECTURE"Landscapes in the Spirit of Zen, A collection of the Work of Shunmyo Masuno, Process Architecture Co,Ltd./Japan ISBN 4-89331-207-3
1999, "TEN LANDSCAPES : Shunmyo Masuno ", ROCKPORT Publishers,Inc./USA, ISBN 1-56496-678-3
2003,"Zen Gardens :The World of Landscapes by Shunmyo Masuno", Japan, ISBN 4-620-060600-6
2010,"Zen Gardens 2 :A collection of the Work of Shunmyo Masuno", Japan, ISBN 4-620-60651-4
2012, "Zen Gardens :The Complete Works of Shunmyo Masuno,
Japan's Leading Garden Designer", USA,ISBN 4-805-31194-0
2006, "100 Japanese Respected by the world", News Week Japan
COURSES, SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS::
1989, Lecture to Cornell University, USA and Toronto University, Canada
1999, Lecture to Harvard GSD, USA
2003, Lecture in Ottawa, Edomoton, Vancouver Canada
2004, Main Speaker in the 41st IFLA world conference, Taiwan
2013, Lecture to Beijing University, China
2013, Main Speaker in 25th anniversary of Hongkong Landscape Association
2014, Lecture to Warsaw University, Portland
2014, Lecture in Botanic Garden, New York, USA
2015, Lecture to Qinghua University, China
SYMPOSIUMS AND ACADEMIC CONFERENCES::
2017, BOAO forum for Asian "Bring Craftsmanship back to Manufacturing" Session
MEMBERSHIPS & ASSOCIATIONS:
1973, Japan Institute of Landscape Architecture
1998, Jury member of Improvement of environment along the highway, Japan
2003, Campus Plan Competition for Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan
Mark Shuttleworth, SEA Group Hongkong, UOL Singapore etc.
Awards received by Shunmyo Masuno
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