Class Ideas

Bringing Back Japanese-Style Gardens

Author:Yoko Nishimura-Parke

Topic/Goals:Communication、Comparison、Housing、Self, Family, and Friends


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Students will read the interview article of Murasame Tatsumasa, a professional gardener of traditional landscape gardens in Japan, and will learn about the traditional Japanese gardens and gardeners through reading the interview article. After reading the article, the students will research traditional Japanese culture like Wabi Sabi to compare them with their own culture and write an email to Murasame.


To learn about the gardening profession and Japanese gardens through this interview article with Murasame Tatsumasa, a gardener in Japan who was born in Sweden.
To research the concepts of wabi and sabi and to compare them with similar ideas in our own cultures.
To think about and discuss things that used to be everywhere but are now much harder to find.

Target Senior high school level or higher
Japanese Level Advanced
What to prepare


1. Questions to help students' comprehension

a) Where was Murasame born and brought up?

b) Why does he have a Japanese name?

c) What is Murasame's profession?

d) How did he get interested in Japan?

e) What aspect of Japanese culture was he fascinated by?

f) Explain his feelings at the time he became a Japanese citizen. What strong feeling did he have?

g) What does he say about his work as a gardener?

h) Murasame says he wants to study the Japanese concepts of wabi and sabi. Explain why.

i) What is Murasame's aim in the future?

j) What was the common impression of Murasame of all three interviewers?

2. Research and discussion points

k) How do we know that Murasame loves his job as a gardener? Which parts of the article show his love for his job?

l) How would you describe his personality and character? Why do you think so?

m) Research how "wabi and sabi" are explained in your language, and share your findings with your classmates. Compare "wabi and sabi" with aesthetic concepts in your culture. How are they different, or similar? For example, think of an aesthetic concept that is expressed in the design of gardens and pottery in your culture.

n) Regarding Japanese gardens, Murasame says that Japanese gardens are now much harder to find. Is there anything around you that you used to see everywhere but is now much harder to find? Think of some examples and discuss why. How do you feel about it?
How about comparing the present and the time when your parents were children? How about the time when your grandparents were children? Ask your parents and grandparents.

3. Creative task 

o) Do you have any questions for Mr. Murasame? Write your questions in Japanese.

p) Write an email or a letter to Mr. Murasame. Include a self-introduction, your thoughts and impressions after reading this article, your questions to him and so on. Follow the format of an email or letter.

q) What do you think Mr. Murasame will be doing in ten years' time? Write a paragraph in Japanese about your image of his future.

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