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Professor Emeritus

Email: norris_johnson(@)



(919) 962-1613

Area of Interest:

Architecture, Art and Aesthetics, Religions and Nature, Japan


Ph.D., Michigan, 1976.

Research & Activities:

Kamakura and Kyôto, Japan (1985-1986; 1998; 2002; 2008). Research on temple architecture and gardens in several Zen Buddhist temples. Research in the New Territories and southern China on the influence of Chinese feng shui on the spatial structure and symbolic form of temple gardens in Kamakura-period (1185-1333) Japan. On-going writing on the interrelationships of religion and nature.

Courses Taught:  General Anthropology (ANTH 10), Habitat and Humanity (ANTH 123); Art, Myth, and Nature (ANTH 334/Folklore 334); Concepts of Nature: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (ANTH/HNRS 438); The Gardens, Shrines, and Temples of Japan (ANTH586/ASIA 586).

Selected Publications:

2011 Tenryû-ji: The Life and Spirit of a Kyôto Garden.
Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press.
2010 “Religion, Spirit, and the Idea of Garden.”
Religious Studies Review  36 (1):1-13.
2004 “The Spiral Designs of Nature, and Craft.”
IN The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience. Pp. 74-82.
New York: Lark Books.
2003 “Mountain Temple, and the Design of Movement: 13th Century Japanese Zen Buddhist Landscapes.”
IN Landscape Design and the Experience of Motion.
Michel Conan, editor. Pp. 157-185. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks.
2001 “Gardens of the Heart.”
Parabola 26(1):29-35.
1999 “A Song of Secret Places.
 Pilgrimage 25:4-10.
1994 “Buddhism and the Architectured Ethical Environment: Zuisen Temple and Garden, Kamakura, Japan.”
IN Tradition and Ideology in Building: Temples and Rituals 64:1-31.
Berkeley: University of California, Center for Environmental Design    Research.
1993 “Cannibals and Culture: The Protoanthropology of Michel de Montaigne.”
Dialectical Anthropology 18:153-176.
1993 “Musô Kokushi and the Cave in Zuisen Temple, Kamakura, Japan: Buddhist Ethics, Environment, and Behavior.”
IN Environmental Ethics: Discourses and Cultural Traditions. Rana P.B. Singh, editor.
Pp. 123-140. Varanasi: The National Geographic Society of India. (concurrently printed as) “Musô Kokushi and the Cave in Zuisen Temple, Kamakura, Japan: Buddhist Ethics, Environment, and Behavior” The National Geographic Journal of India. 39:161-178.
1993 “Zen Buddhist Landscapes and the Idea of Temple: Musô Kokushi and Zuisen-ji, Kamakura, Japan.”
Architecture and Behavior 9:213-226.
1992 “Tenryû Temple and Garden: The Evolution of a Religious Landscape in Medieval Japan.”
Temples in Traditional Environments 49:1-30.
Berkeley: University of California. Center for Environmental Design Research.
1991 “Garden as Sacred Space.”
IN The Power of Place. James Swan, editor. Pp. 167-187.
Wheaton: Quest Books.
1991 “Primordial Image and the Archetypal Design of Art.”
Journal of Analytical Psychology. 36:371-392.
1991 “Zuisen Temple and Garden, Kamakura, Japan: Design Form and Phylogenetic Meaning.”
Journal of Garden History. 10:214-236.
1990 “Art and the Meaning of Things.”
Reviews in Anthropology 17:221-234.