Photo: Dominik Schmitz

Foreigners following their love of gardening in Japan

By Alena Eckelmann

Most visitors to Japan, and residents alike, are charmed by the serene beauty of traditional Japanese gardens. However, behind the seemingly effortless flow and intricate composition of the natural scenery hides labor of love.  

We spoke with two foreigners who took traditional gardening apprenticeships in Japan. They started from scratch and learned the ropes over several years before getting into the “garden business” themselves.  

Here are their stories.

Dominik Schmitz

Dominik Schmitz planting around the edges of a pond at a temple on Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture.

Dominik Schmitz was born in Germany and raised in a small village in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He came to Japan for the first time in 2003 to do a three-month internship in Kyoto in traditional Japanese garden culture.

“I vividly remember the first Japanese garden I saw in Kyoto. I was overwhelmed by the balanced beauty. Japanese gardens are man-made, yet they bring out the beauty of nature so impressively,” he recalls. 

German artist and professor Heinrich Johann Radeloff, who had lived in Kyoto for 40 years, introduced Schmitz to Kyoto-based Ogawa Jihei, an 11th generation Japanese garden master at the Ueji company (Japanese) that has been in this business for 250 years. 

“Without his mediation, this door would probably have remained closed to me because the traditional Japanese trust in en (chance and good connection),” Schmitz says.

Learning by doing 

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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May as well go full on and say ‘two gaijin’. I prefer the term foreign resident..

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

May as well go full on and say ‘two gaijin’. I prefer the term foreign resident..

people move here, live here, pay taxes here, have Japanese families and buy homes and are still considered outsiders. Go figure

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

It is a really interestingstory of how two people with a passon for Japanese culture have established themselves in Japan working in their area of passion. I did note that both individuals decided to start their own business as the next step. This is a brash step in a field with centuries of tradition. These are the examples of individuals who will helptransform traditional Japan to meld with the modern world.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My father has visited Japan a few times and absolutely loves Japanese gardens. He even had a pagoda in his garden, along with several Japanese maples. Now here I am in Japan, renting a house out in Saitama. I have my own garden in the back. I mostly grow veggies, but slowly starting to turn into my father. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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