Spirit Come Out of Nothing
Words by Natsumi Yokoyama
Photo by Toru Miyake
Make a Positive Mistake
Kitayama stepped into the landscape architecture field at 22 years old for his family business reconstruction.He studied under Hiroyasu Komiyama at Kyoto Komiyama Landscape Architecture Company after graduating from the Faculty of Economics, Kyoto Sangyo Universtiy in March 1971.Since he started his own business at 26 years old, he has landscaped a wide variety of gardens such as “Chouontei” at Kenninji, the oldest Zen (one of the main branches of Japanese Buddhism) temple in Kyoto.He was also featured in NHK TV program “The Professionals” in February 2007; as a result, Kitayama has drawn a great deal of attention throughout Japan and overseas.How in the world has Kitayama built his career and and become professional in that field?To answer this question, he told us his motto, “Make a positive mistake.”Kitayama sometimes struggles with the gap between the skill which he needs for his ideal landscape architecture and the skill which he has actually; however, he tries anything to make his ideal without fear of mistakes.That is why he always keeps himself enthusiastic in his career.Therefore, Kitayama teaches his apprentices “Make a positive mistake. And you can change it to an experience someday.”
Just a Space Where Nothing Is Needed
That represents quite a simple garden which Kitayama would like to landscape.He continued, “That space makes people recognize my work. That is my ideal.”Kitayama told us two points to landscape his ideal garden.The one is sensibility to imagine a garden for 100 years ahead."Completion of a garden itself is not when we finish our work.I think it takes at least 30 years from that moment.Our success or failure is defined by whether they have the ability to landscape "a growing garden," in my opinion.Therefore, they need to imagine the future of their works.They need the ability to dream how it will be for 100 or 200 years ahead."Another is importance of people involved.Kitayama always shares his ideal growing garden with his apprentices and his customer."Without their efforts, my work will never be ideal even though I do it well.Development of people improves development of landscaping.They are the key to let me reach my ideal garden."
Roots of Japanese Spirits Is Hidden in Kyoto.
He introduced one of his interesting theory in his rhythmical way of speaking which fascinates all listeners.“I suppose early people have quite acute sensitivity.It is because they didn’t put as much clothing as modern people.The more clothing we put, the less energy we release.Now that we hide our physical part, we prevent ourselves from releasing our energy.Besides, they couldn’t get much information unlike us.As a result, all they could do was to complete expression of their own world just with their sensitivity.This is how they had created Japanese spiritual culture.Japanese need to bring back the roots once.”Kitayama also wants those outside Japan to appreciate what the roots is like in actual places.His simple gardens must be filled with the world-class Japanese spiritual cultures.