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Lecture: Restoring Kinship with Nature through Japanese Gardens

Research Project in Kanazawa, Japan, by the United Nation’s University

Since 2017, the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) has examined the role of Japanese gardens as they pertain to our modern lives, particularly around urban sustainability, community building, and biocultural diversity. Working in collaboration with more than 40 different cultural, political, business, and grassroots organizations, UNU-IAS, led by acclaimed project researcher, Dr. Juan Pastor-Ivars, sought to understand and draw connections between nature and humanity through the lens of Kanazawa, Japan’s urban nature and its renowned Japanese gardens. For this lecture, we’ve invited Dr. Pastor-Ivars to share relevant findings from this research and how we might use them to build a better future for all.

The city of Kanazawa in the Hokuriku region of Japan was built around castles and gardens over generations that strategically combined function and beauty throughout its over 500-year history. Kanazawa is often considered one of the cultural epicenters of Japan, known for its diversity of its surrounding ecosystems — from forests to freshwater, to plains, and marine environments. This biocultural “mosaic” provides it with an abundance of resources and services that are critical for the coexistence of humanity and nature.