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
"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.”