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With An Eye Towards Nature: A Japanese Garden Design Intensive

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the International Japanese Garden Training Center is happy to announce the return of an educational opportunity for design professionals: a Japanese garden Design Intensive. Aimed at meeting professional learning needs, this 3-day course is taught by Portland Japanese Garden staff.

Dates: October 5-7, 2023  

Location: Portland Japanese Garden

Who can apply: Design professionals, primarily landscape architects, landscape designers, and architects. Members of other design disciplines are welcome to apply.

Capacity: 10 participants

Tuition: $1,350            

Instructors: Sadafumi Uchiyama, Chief Curator of Portland Japanese Garden and Director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center, and other guest instructors.

Key dates:

  • Applications due on August 21, 2023 (Extended to August 25, 2023)
  • Applicants will be notified by September 1, 2023
  • Payment fulfilled by September 6, 2023

Pre-seminar study module: A required pre-seminar study module will be made available via e-mail by September 6, 2023, with readings and a short preparatory assignment to be completed and submitted by September 15, 2023.

Course summary: Designing with nature is a powerful but relatively recent approach in the western garden-making tradition. In Japan, for well over a millennium, garden-makers have been guided by the philosophy that nature is the first design teacher. That tradition has much to teach us about making places capable of answering ecological needs and providing visitors with a sense of space, stillness, and balance even in a hectic, crowded urban setting.

This three-day course provides 25 hours of theoretical and hands-on training in the Japanese approach to designing with nature and its modern use and application. Traditional techniques of arranging stone, plants, and water according to nature’s design principles are placed in historical perspective and given contemporary social context as tools for creating meaningful spaces that connect people to their environment. On-site thematic garden tours and lectures offer theoretical instruction in observing and analyzing composition and representations of nature in the garden.

Drawing by hand is foundational to critical thinking, absorbing skills at the intuitive level, and developing a cultivated eye, and is the course’s core hands-on activity. Participants are expected to keep documentation of their observations and drawing work in a sketchbook. A required preparatory module will provide readings and assignments in advance of the course.