Student-curated exhibition on Japanese gardens opens at East Asia Library

December 3, 2019
Joshua Capitanio
Flower arrangement

Beginning on Dec. 5, the East Asia Library will host "The Japanese Garden: A Historical Account of Japanese Culture and Tradition," an exhibition curated by students in RELIGST 8N: Gardens and Sacred Spaces in Japan, an introductory seminar taught by Prof. Michaela Mross of the Dept. of Religious Studies.

Japanese gardens are intimately connected to Japanese culture and religion.  Tracing the history of garden design sheds light on such diverse topics as the transmission of culture from other Asian countries to Japan, the rise and fall of the imperial family and shogunate, and the evolution of Buddhism and Shinto in Japan.  This exhibition showcases the evolution of Japanese gardens from as early as the Heian period (794 - 1185) to the modern day.

The exhibition features a number of rare books and other materials from the East Asia Library's special collections.  These works were selected by Prof. Mross in collaboration with Regan Murphy Kao, Japanese Studies Librarian, and Kristen St. John, Head of Conservation Services at Stanford Libraries.   Students received training in the proper ways to handle and display special collections materials from Richenda Brim, Head of Preservation.  The final selection of materials to display was made by the students, who also installed the exhibition and produced all the posters and other promotional materials.

"The Japanese Garden: A Historical Account of Japanese Culture and Tradition" will be on view in the East Asia Library's 2nd floor display cases from Dec. 5, 2019 through March 1, 2020.  An opening reception will be held at the East Asia Library, room 224, from 1:30 - 2:50 PM on Thursday, Dec. 5.  The exhibition is sponsored by IntroSems, the Department of Religious Studies, the East Asia Library, and Stanford Libraries.

Image: detail of Japanese flower arrangement (ikebana) from Seizan Goryū ikebana tebikigusa (1800).