Sukiya Living Magazine (JOJG)

Publisher's Essays

Each issue of Sukiya Living Magazine includes a stimulating essay by the publisher, Douglas M. Roth (right).  Here are some of the topics that have been published in past issues:

TRAIN IN JAPAN   This essay explains how Westerners can train as gardeners (or carpenters) in the famous Japanese gardens in Japan.  JOJG has established several intern positions for gardener and carpenter candidates.  The article explains application procedures and selection requirements.  It also briefly explains what it is like to work and live in Japan.

THE THICK WALL   "By splitting residential design into two realms, architecture and landscape design, we have made the wall of our homes thick indeed, and it’s no surprise that the inside and outside are poorly integrated.  They should be designed by one single person who cares equally about both sides of the wall."

NOISY FESTIVALS   This article offers criticisms of the large noisy festivals that some public gardens put on.  Mr. Roth offers several suggestions to improve the quality of such festivals, including the idea of doing away with them altogether.

INTERNET MINEFIELD   This article points out that, of the huge amounts of information on the internet, some is useful and some is just garbage. Overall the article states, “Don’t rely on the internet for your Japanese garden information. Read JOJG instead.”

SUKIYA LIVING   This essay explains problems that arise from the term, "Japanese Garden."  Mr. Roth introduce another term that he thinks is better.

WHY IS PORTLAND SO GOOD?   There is a lot of talk in Portland, Oregon, about how great their garden builder, Takuma Tono, was.  Their team of 8 imported garden directors (who really deserve most of the credit) are rarely mentioned. This essay hopes to partially change that.  People like Masa Mizuno deserve much more credit, and Takuma Tono much less.

THE SHIOSAI PROJECT   This essay introduces the ground-breaking research that JOJG is doing to rank gardens in Japan according to quality.  The essay talks a bit about the current #1 garden at the Adachi Art Museum.

CREATIVITY IS NOT THE GOAL   The goal is to create a high-quality environment that works and is special. That has little to do with whether something is “creative” or not. Mr. Roth criticizes the prevailing 20th Century take on architecture, art, and other fields which is, essentially, “to be a great artist or designer, you must put your own stamp on everything and ‘create’ new things that were never done before.” He calls this approach the “Designer as God” mentality. It has resulted in uglyness all over the world, and it has accelerated the decline of the craftsman.

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT   This essay was a rant against know-nothing authors and internet jockeys who, despite their ignorance, are cavalier about recycling bad information for public consumption. The essay encourages readers to vigorously challenge websites, footnotes, publishers, and other devices that are normally respected in the regular world.

IN CHARGE OF THE SHOE FACTORY   The guy in charge of the shoe factory ought to know something about shoes.  Mr. Roth's rather straightforward idea is that directors of public gardens ought to know something about Japanese gardening. Interestingly, many public gardens hire “non-profit” types instead of people with expertise in the “core product” that they’re offering.

LIFELONG STUDY   This essay was a description of Mr. Roth's study program. His main point is that it never ends - you never get to the end of the road.

PRESERVATION = THE END   In the sukiya living world, historical preservation is a bad idea.  This essay explains why.