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A Bridge to Escapism

Children Coping With Mental Health With the Art and Storytelling of Japanese Gardens

Yuka Tanaka

David Watts

March 2021

This book was written in the hopes of educating children about lessons we can learn from nature, in particular in the Japanese garden. The concept of the book is based on positive psychology to show how to shift anxious thoughts into optimistic ones. The storyline provides coping strategies hidden in the design elements and principles of a Japanese garden.

Therefore, this book is not only an introduction to a Japanese garden, but also serves as a stepping stone for children to acquire the tools to cope with anxiety, cultivate resilience, and instill interest in outdoor environments. As children create stronger connections with nature, their mind and body will find ways to heal and reduce anxiety levels.

While a Japanese garden may not exist in every neighborhood, the garden is not as foreign as you might think. What makes a Japanese garden unique is not the garden materials themselves, but rather the way the design elements and principles are arranged, along with the emotions they inspire.

My book can be accessed at



Hello! My name is Yuka Tanaka and I chose this project not only because I wanted to cultivate a deeper understanding of my cultural roots, but also explore the essence and meanings of a Japanese garden that I never completely understood. During the research process, I found that people in the Edo period often enjoyed the garden for leisure and healing. This led me to the idea of merging the issues of anxiety in children with the therapeutic qualities of a Japanese garden. Hope you enjoy!

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