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Perspectives on Traditional Performing Arts through Demonstration and Discourse 3
Reading Gardens: Rikugien

—Seasons and Change, At Play in a Waka Universe

The Perspectives on Traditional Performance series seeks to delve into the essence of Japanese culture, something transcending time and genre that lives on in Japan’s performing arts. Each session brings together practitioners who are carving out new paths in the worlds of traditional culture or performing arts and researchers in a program combining demonstration and discourse.

This third installment of the series takes place at the Rikugien Gardens, which were designed based on waka poetry. Rikugien Gardens incorporates eighty-eight sites reflecting famous landscapes from waka poetry, each marked by a simple stone pillar inscribed with the corresponding poem. The entire garden, then, can be seen as designed around the technique of mitate (“seeing as,” or superimposition).

The morning classroom study looks at this technique of mitate, and other techniques for “seeing the unseen” that were cultivated by ancient waka, from the perspectives of both culture and brain science. Then participants go out and walk through the gardens and apply what they have learned and experience mitate for themselves. The afternoon classroom study takes another look at the universe of waka and how it shaped the foundations of Japanese culture since the medieval period, touching on the spirit of travelers who toured throughout the country visiting utamakura (famous spots mentioned in waka poetry).


“Reading Gardens” office
TEL:050-5274-2250(Weekdays, 10:00-18:00)


Rikugien, Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library) 2F Lecture room


Organized by
Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
Supported by
Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association
Cooperated by
Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library)
Program Support by
Noboru Yasuda