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The garden is of great historical significance, being the first to have been created by a sculptor rather than a gardener. In the past, gardens were not created by artists, and their work in gardens is the sign of a new era which has given rise to many contemporary Japanese gardens that differ considerably from the traditional gardens. It, therefore, represents a new departure.

His creation is perhaps more profoundly Japanese than anything a Japanese artist who had remained in Japan would have created because he was trying to understand the culture of his childhood. UNESCO's garden, a donation by the Japanese government, is marked throughout by the Japanese spirit and at the same time, it expresses Noguchi's individual artistic creativity.

The way in which the rocks, imported from Japan, are laid out, for instance, is essentially Japanese. The plants have been selected to resemble as closely as possible the natural landscapes of Japan, and enable the visitor to appreciate the passing seasons.

Difference from a traditional Japanese garden

• It can be viewed as a whole by visitors: Noguchi created the platform (butai), or upper garden, in order to achieve this. Traditionally, however, it is never possible to see a Japanese garden at a glance: it is a space to be discovered gradually;

• It has three axes: the axis of the platform to the place set aside for the open-air tea ceremony, the axis of the ' flowery path ' and the stream, and the axis from the rounded bridge to the lantern that passes through the place set aside for the open-air tea ceremony.The axes of Japanese gardens are traditionally invisible. Their visibility here is indicative of a clear decision taken by the creator.In traditional gardens, the boundaries between different materials and spaces are kept deliberately vague, and natural materials are used as far as possible. UNESCO's garden is characterized by clearly defined boundaries; consequently, each area is discreet. The garden is, in fact, a composition of clearly autonomous spaces; and each one of those spaces is a profound expression of Japanese culture and taste. Their autonomy makes each space an individual sculpture;

• for Japanese people, the use of asphalt in the garden is highly shocking. It is, however, a fixed form, that is, another sculpture;

• the relationship between nature and human creativity is tilted here in favor of the latter, and it is, in fact, an essential feature of contemporary gardens that human creativity takes precedence over nature;

• the 'flowery path' and the platform (butai) are not traditional garden features: they are nonetheless traditional elements borrowed from other areas of Japan's culture: theater, construction, and so on;

• the upkeep of a Japanese garden involves a creative effort on a daily basis, which is the source of its charm. Isamu Noguchi has left such a lasting stamp on this garden that its upkeep does not allow for traditional creative development.

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thedani, April 12th, 2017
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