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If Japanese landscape gardeners looked toward mountains and river valleys for inspiration in creating the rock arrangements that form the power grids of their gardens, infusing natural elements with Taoist and Buddhist principles, it is likely that Okinawans cast their eyes over the seas that surround their subtropical islands, finding in their marine gardens models for terrestrial forms.

Where Japanese gardeners, in their pre-Shinto, animistic phase, sought out waterfalls, forest glades and pebble beaches, requisitioning these spaces as proto gardens or purified clearings where the gods could be summoned and petitioned, the ancient Okinawans, without any notion of arranged landscapes functioning as magnetic fields for the spirits, allotted groves, rocks, cliffs and crevices called utaki as manifestations of the sacred.

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