Garden / Toshio Iwamoto|

Toshio Iwamoto, Garden Designer
岩本俊男 造園家 岡山県岡山市

Toshio Iwamoto

From small personal gardens measuring as small as 2 Japanese tatami mats (3.3㎡) to the vast ones seen in shrines or temples, Mr. Toshio Iwamoto has designed many gardens as the last remaining student of Mirei Shigemori (重森三玲 1896-1975), a notable modern Japanese landscape architect and historian of Japanese gardens.

Due to Mr. Shigemori’s influence, when designing gardens Mr. Iwamoto does not draw a plan but meticulously places rocks, pebbles and stepping stones, and then covers the ground with moss, seeing the future scenery in his head. He takes this approach as one of the allures of Japanese gardens lies in the fact that they are ever-changing. Trees and grasses grow every day, water flows constantly and changes the shapes of the stones and rocks it runs over.


  • 和の美|wanobi
  • 和の美|wanobi
  • 和の美|wanobi
  • 和の美|wanobi
  • Karesansui Zen Garden "Tsuru-kame” (crane & turtle) / 枯山水:鶴亀の庭

  • Chozubachi (washbowl) / 手水鉢 / 六甲御影石

  • Pond Garden:Ryumon Taki (Dragon gate waterfall) / 池庭:龍門滝

  • Yamoto-in Temple "Garden of Solitary Meditation / 山本院 独座の庭

One of the concepts that his mentor Mirei Shigemori often spoke of, and which Mr. Iwamoto is mindful of in his planning, is “Kanawazu” (不叶) being unfulfilled. In general, people are not easily satisfied and we are destined to endlessly seek perfection. As a result, one moment we think we have become fulfilled, but the next moment we find ourselves yearning for something else.

Meticulous attention to the smallest details, some which may not even be visible, is essential in order to try and overcome this sense of being unfulfilled. When standing in front of a mud wall, can anyone tell whether the center of the wall is machine-made concrete or handmade plaster? Probably not, but Mr. Iwamoto believes that the intricate foundation makes a notable difference to the whole construction.

For him, what may seem insignificant at first glance, is an essential element that leads people to finding fulfillment -“Kanau” (叶う). Humble in his work, he never compromises and he hopes people find “Kanau” in his gardens.


Photography by Hirofumi Miyamoto