An Artist of the Floating World

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Gardens Symbol Icon

Gardens represent an uncomplicated, beautiful collaboration between humans and nature that exists across historical moments and outside of ideology. Ono’s true connection (which he seems to have ignored out of his ambition) is with the details of the natural world and with the ways that humans shape that world, not with the subjects he takes up under the influences of Master Takeda, Mori-san, or Matsuda. In his efforts to become a relevant artist, Ono does not dedicate himself to exploring this subject in his art.  Often, during an upsetting conversation, Ono turns his attention away from the person with whom he is speaking and begins to observe what is happening in a garden in minute detail. At the end of the novel, Ono reports to Matsuda that he has begun painting again. He says he paints “plants and flowers mostly, just for my own amusement.” From this, it is clear that Ono’s interest in depicting gardens was his true passion all along, which, unbeknownst to him, might have provided him with the material to make a truly valuable artistic contribution.

Gardens Quotes in An Artist of the Floating World

The An Artist of the Floating World quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gardens. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of An Artist of the Floating World published in 1986.
October 1948 Quotes

"We took him once to the cinema to see an American cowboy film. He's been very fond of cowboys ever since. We even had to buy him a ten-gallon hat. He’s convinced cowboys make that funny sound he does. It must have seemed very strange.”

“So that’s what it was,” I said with a laugh. “My grandson’s become a cowboy.”

Down in the garden, a breeze was making the foliage sway.

Noriko was crouching down by the old stone lantern near the back wall, pointing something out to Ichiro.

“Still,” I said, with a sigh, “only a few years ago, Ichiro wouldn't have been allowed to see such a thing as a cowboy film.”

Setsuko, without turning from the garden, said: “Suichi believes it's better he likes cowboys than that he idolize people like Miyamoto Musashi. Suichi thinks the American heroes are the better models for children now.”

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Noriko, Suichi , Ichiro
Related Symbols: Lanterns, Gardens
Page Number: 35-36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gardens Symbol Timeline in An Artist of the Floating World

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gardens appears in An Artist of the Floating World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
October 1948
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
The house was damaged during the war, especially the very beautiful corridor running alongside the garden to the eastern wing. Miss Sugimura was near tears at the sight, but Ono reassured... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...out to the veranda and finds Setusko sitting there. Noriko and Ichiro are in the garden below. Ono sits with Setsuko and tells her about Ichiro’s game. Setsuko explains that Ichiro... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...Ono and Matsuda sit in silence. Ono has an urge to go look at Matsuda’s garden, which he remembers as beautiful, but realizes that Matsuda is too ill to accompany him... (full context)
April 1949
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...about the China crisis posters. Ono stands up and goes to look out onto his garden. He asks Shintaro if he is trying to disassociate himself from Ono’s influence. Shintaro denies... (full context)
November 1949
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...after the confrontation with the Tortoise. Ono and Mori-san go to the pavilion at Takami Gardens, which is elegantly decorated with hanging lanterns. In later years that pavilion remains a favorite... (full context)
June 1950
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
Ono looks out at the garden. He can smell something burning faintly and tells Matsuda that the smell makes him uneasy... (full context)