Japanese Garden Design Intensive

With an Eye Towards Nature

2023 Information Page

Japanese Garden Design Intensive will not be offered in 2024. We are currently in the process of carefully and intentionally reviewing this program with the goal of it returning in 2025. To stay updated, please sign up for the Training Center’s quarterly newsletter.

Waza to Kokoro Seminars of all levels will not be offered in 2024. We are currently in the process of carefully and intentionally reviewing this program with the goal of it returning in 2025. To stay updated, please sign up for the Training Center’s quarterly newsletter.

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 program by the International Japanese Garden Training Center is a 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.

An offsite excursion offers an opportunity to engage with and study the magnificent waterfalls, streams, plant life and rock formations of Oregon.

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.  Students are expected to keep documentation of their observations and drawing work in a sketchbook. A required preparatory module including readings and assignments will be given well in advance of the course’s start.

Approved Continuing Education Credit:

15 to 25 hours for LA CES by the American Society of Landscape Architects. 4 continuing education units for the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

Learning Objectives:

After the course, students should be able to recognize, explain and be able to apply to their work in the below methods:

  • Natural landscape patterns and processes in stone, water, and vegetation, and how they can be abstracted or otherwise referenced in a designed landscape
  • The traditional Japanese process of designing from the details up
  • The core Japanese aesthetics of suggestion, simplicity, irregularity, and perishability
  • Main design techniques in Japanese garden design including asymmetry, balance, borrowed scenery, enclosure, hide and reveal, blank space, and layering
  • Scales of nature and ways nature has historically been represented in Japanese gardens

The Training Center is certified by the American Society of Landscape Architects as an approved LA CES  (Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System) provider. Our courses are also eligible for continuing education credit by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association.  Please contact [email protected] for credit hours for specific events.

Photos by Kristin Faurest

More Information About the Intensive

Who can apply?

Design professionals, primarily landscape architects, landscape designers, and architects, but members of other design disciplines are welcome to apply.

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What is included with course tuition?

  • Preparatory reading materials
  • All onsite activities and instruction
  • Garden admission all three days
  • Learning materials
  • Writing and drawing materials
  • Transportation, guided field trips in the Columbia Gorge and overnight accomodation at Menucha Retreat Center
  • Some meals
  • Hot and cold drinks during breaks
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What is the timeline?

Applications open:  August 9th, 2023

Applications due: August 21st, 2023

Applicants notified by: August 25th, 2023

Payment fulfilled by: September 2nd, 2023

Preparatory materials emailed to accepted students by: September 2nd, 2023

Preparatory assignments due: September 15th, 2023

Capacity: 10 students Tuition: $1,350

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When and where will the intensive take place?

Dates: October 5-7th, 2023

Location: Portland Japanese Garden

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Who will be teaching the intensive?

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

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What else do I need to know?

This course is designed for working design professionals. Design students will also be considered.

Applicants should be able to use drafting tools, have a good working knowledge of landscape graphics, and be able to draw plans, perspectives, and cross-sections to scale by hand.

Tuition includes some but not all meals. More detailed information will be provided prior to the course.

Refund Policy: A refund of 50% can be issued up to a month before the event.

Participants should bring a reusable water bottle and dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather.

The course does not include other forms of hands-on work besides drawing.

A letter certifying successful completion will be provided upon request for obtaining CEU or PD credits.

Email [email protected] with questions.