Courtyard Gardens of Kyoto's Merchant Houses

  • Photographs and text by Hidehiko Mizuno
  • Translated by Rucy North
Courtyard Gardens of Kyoto's Merchant Houses

Size: 300×228 mm, 1270 g
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 152
150 color photos
ISBN10: 4-7700-3023-1
ISBN13: 978-4-7700-3023-8
Release date: Feb. 1, 2007

List price: $45.00

Buy online:

Exquisite photos and insightful text reveal the gardens hidden within the traditional town houses of the merchants of Kyoto.

One of the pleasures of visiting Kyoto is to wander around picturesque streets lined with machiya, the traditional townhouses of the merchant class. Tucked away inside each of these unusually long, narrow dwellings are hidden oases; small gardens known as tsuboniwa. Following on from Landscapes for Small Spaces and The Hidden Gardens of Kyoto, the third book of garden enthusiast and photographer Katsuhiko Mizuno focuses on courtyard gardens of the machiya.

A wide variety of gardens are beautifully photographed and presented: from those in shops, inns, restaurants, and teahouses, to gardens in many private homes. A total of 150 color images from 81 gardens bring the reader an unprecedented display of the flawless taste of Kyoto aesthetics.

Superb manipulation of limited spaces—the positioning of a lantern or water basin, a strategically placed patch of pebbles or fern—is beautifully captured through the photographer’s lens. Surrounding architectural features, such as shoji sliding doors, reed blinds, head beams, railings, and walkways are also featured, bringing the authentic Kyoto atmosphere to life, and showing how these gardens can bring a taste of nature to city dwellers.

Each photograph is accompanied by analytical and insightful comments from the author, making this a useful reference book for all garden lovers, as well as a visual feast for all those with an interest in traditional Japanese design.

  • Sumptuous color photographs of 81 gardens of 52 houses bring the reader an unprecedented display of the flawless taste of Kyoto aesthetics.
  • Mizuno’s insightful comments and analysis makes this book an ideal reference book for connoisseurs of the Japanese garden as well as aficionados of traditional Japanese design.
  • Eleven diagrams give detailed plans showing the diverse man-made and natural elements that make up the various gardens.
  • Concise explanations of the plants and stones that contribute to the design and atmosphere of these small gardens.



“...a library of Japanese courtyard designs. More than 150 color photographs and diagrams offer several hundred landscape design ideas for small spaces.”
Washington Post

“...a study of the interior gardens of the former Imperial City that proves how sympathetic in scale, proportion and detailing the ancient Japanese garden aesthetic can be to domestic environments.”
Metropolitan Home

About the Author

KATSUHIKO MIZUNO born in Kyoto in 1941, graduated from Doshisha University and the Tokyo College of Photography. His camera has been focused on his historic home town of Kyoto since 1969. In 2000 he renovated a machiya said to date from the latter half of the Edo period, converting it into a museum housing his photographic works. He has published about 130 books, including Landscapes for Small Spaces which won a Gold Medal in the foreword 2002 book of the Year Awards.