Mention Japanese gardens and the image that comes to mind is usually that of raked pebble yards featuring judiciously placed boulders that represent mountains. But, apart from these abstract Zen Buddhist masterpieces, the country is home to many other types of gardens, the style of which, as Marc Keane illustrates in Japanese Garden Design (Tuttle, HK$234), were often influenced by politics, religion and shifts in social structure. Tea gardens, for instance, appeared during the close of Japan's medieval period, when luxury contrasted with restraint in the castle and the teahouse. Not only were these gardens designed to act as pathways from the street to the tea houses, they also symbolised journeys from town to mountain. Then there are the tsubo gardens, or tiny 'natural' settings built within townhouses. These underscored the rise in social status of merchants and craftsmen and epitomised the idea that the cosmos is contained in a grain of sand. Fabulous Food Shops (Wiley, HK$300) is as over the top as its title suggests, bursting with carefully designed shops whose sole object is to make customers buy, buy, buy. Of course, as author Jane Peyton points out, not all establishments rely on design to attract crowds. London's Burough Market, for example, is almost a pilgrimage for worshippers of great-looking produce. But then there are outlets calculated to fill trolleys. One of the most striking in the book is Dean & DeLuca in Tokyo, where stainless-steel and white tiles in the fish section connote hygiene, wood in the bakery brings to mind artisans and subdued colours in the fruit and vegetable section highlight nature in glorious colour. Startling in its minimalism is the Princi Bakery, Milan, courtesy of Claudio Silvestrin (known for his work in Giorgio Armani stores). Daily bread is elevated to manna from heaven in the way it is made (behind a glass window) and displayed (framed, like works of art). Hong Kong appears in one entry: Great Food Hall, designed by Gabriel Murray at Rodney Fitch.