Niwa no rope work book review

[Book review] The Garden’s rope work / 目で見る庭のロープワーク

目で見る庭のロープワーク / The Garden’s rope work

First published 1980. Reviewed edition first published May 30 2008.
By Junzou Ishida / 龍居庭園研究所
ISBN-10: 4-87460-985-6
ISBN-13: 978-4-87460-985-9
222 Pages
¥ 1300 +tax

I couldn’t find any additional information about the author.

Introduction by the author (translated and summarized by the reviewer):

During the creation of this book the author turned 28 years old. At this times, other volumes of the 目で見る series didn’t really exist and he thought of a way to visualize knots and rope work in a way the reader can understand easily how to apply a knot.

Junzou Ishida decided on a mix of drawings and photographs, together with describing texts. Without the methods of these days, he had a hard time to create everything for this book until it was ready to print.

He believes a book like this is more useful on a construction site than videos because you can put the book down and do the knots with both hands while studying the pictures. You can easily go back and forth without stop or replay function.

The author especially highlights his trademark, the rope work for fences, often especially decorative. He hopes everyone has a lot of fun trying the different knots.


  • Introduction
  • Various about rope
  • Basic knots with rope
  • Rope work for fences and hedges
  • Winter rope work
  • Rope work for root balls
  • Rope work useful on construction sites
  • Application of rope work

The book starts with pictures of winter protection for plants, featuring in detail the yukizuri of Kenrokuen. Yukizuri definitely is a signature rope work for Japan, however, the rope work on bamboo fences might be more recognized overseas.

A real, but short introduction follows in the chapter “Various about rope” where different types of ropes and threats are introduced, and simple knots and the naming for different parts of them, so everyone will understand the terms in following explanations.

The next chapter shows how to tie basic knots illustrated with photographs and drawings. Because these knots are really simple, it is still easy to follow the instructions only by looking at the illustrations.

In the next chapter, when the knots become more complex, one point which could be improved, will be noticed. As an example, in the photographs, one single white rope is used. Even though the book is printed in grayscale only, a rope separated in two colors would have made sense to see which part of the rope is used at which time. The same goes for the drawings. I have seen videos using two-colored ropes and found them very helpful.

Sometimes it seems as if steps are left out like at the explanation of the tamaen-knot and its variations. Here, and at some following knots, it is helpful to be able to read the written explanations.

The following chapter explaining the rope work for winter is not focussing exclusively on yukizuri but also shows how to make straw protections for smaller plants, which adds nicely to this section of the book. What is missing completely is the method how to protect plants in snow-rich parts of the country.
The yukizuri-style explained is the Kenrokuen-style where the ropes are directly tied to the branches.

Another most interesting chapter is explaining how to prepare root balls for the transport of large and smaller trees. There are two main methods: using ropes alone and putting straw mats around the root ball. However, here again, it is sometimes hard to follow the steps through the pictures alone. But the page layout is very well done with explaining drawings at the top and the photographs at the bottom.

The rest of the book might not be too interesting for people from other countries, because every country has its own methods used on construction sites. What is interesting here, is how to tie ropes around rocks to lift them up safely with cranes or other tools.

Working in gardens in Japan makes it essential to know basic knots like the “otoko musubi“, which is used very often. If Japanese bamboo fences are installed, knowing other knots is necessary too.
This book helps with learning the knots in addition to some well-done videos. Even with not knowing Japanese, most of the illustrations show clearly which step to take next.

The following link to Amazon will open a page where the book can be previewed. As far as I know, the cheapest option to get it is through Amazon Japan.
We are happy to help with purchases if it doesn’t seem possible to order through Amazon.

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