15 posts tagged pond
In 2010 I had the pleasure of driving to Kyõto to visit the famous Temple of the Golden Pavilion which exhibits a wonderful example of a paradise garden. Paradise gardens became popular in the Heian period (794-1185) with the introduction of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism (Jōdo bukkyō). This is one of my favourite gardens in Japan, and although the golden pavilion itself is now a Zen temple, (when Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son according to his wishes) the garden still retains its original paradise garden layout and design.
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji, was built in 1397 by the Ashikaga shõgun Yoshimitsu (1358-1408) himself a celebrated traditional garden designer. It was modelled on the Sheri-den at Saihoji (no longer extant). The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Set in an impressive strolling garden (kaiyū-shiki-teien) the grounds were built according to the Buddhist ideals of the Western Paradise of Amitābha Buddha, representing a harmony between heaven and earth. Such a paradise is not merely a concept, but believed to be an actual heavenly realm, a physical reality to believers in the Pure Land Buddhist faith.
Giving Buddhist believers a taste of the bliss that awaited them in the next world, paradise gardens contained pavilions standing among lotus ponds with specially contrived islands and promontories. In such a place it was believed the immortals passed their time in boats drifting among the blossoms to the accompaniment of beautiful music.
The pavilion is situated on a grand mirror pond (Kyōko-chi) which was originally connected to ancillary buildings by long roofed corridors. The pond has stone arrangements representing the nine mountains and eight seas of Chinese Buddhist/Taoist myth, with a small fishing deck (tsuri-dono) attached to the rear of the pavilion originally used for recreational boating.
The three-storey pavilion, mirrored in the large pond, now stands on the shore due to silting up over the centuries. During the Onin war (1467-1477) all of the ancillary buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. Early in the morning on July 2nd 1950 the entire pavilion complex was burned to the ground by a 22-year-old monk, Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. The replica of the pavilion that stands today was constructed in 1955 based on photographs and detailed plans.
The interesting feature to me is that from the pavilion the pond appears to be larger than it really is. This is achieved by some rather clever techniques. When a feeling of spaciousness and distance is sought, ponds are wider near the viewpoint and narrower further away. The presence of islands and land jutting out into the pond from the sides creates layers in a garden that increase its spaciousness.
As well as elements getting smaller as they recede into the distance, they can also get bigger giving the effect of foreshortening distance. At Kinkaku-ji the grouping of small pines on an island are perceived as full-sized which exaggerates the width of the pond. Likewise, the view from the verandah has an important effect on the judgement of distance. As one looks out from the verandah across the pond, the ground immediately in front and below the verandah is cut off from view. This gives the effect that the pavilion is floating on the pond itself.
The pond is divided into two parts, with the inner part filled with many little rocks and islands providing interest, and the outer part is left empty which is only vaguely perceived in the distance. The division of the two parts is created by a peninsula jutting out from the shore together with a long island planted with pines that are pruned into shaped to provide scale. The shoreline is formed from groupings of fine stones that were similarly chosen for scale. Beyond the island in the outer part of the pond are a number of scattered islands purposely designed to be small to create an illusion of distance from the pavilion.
Most of the islands in the pond are turtle islands. Turtle islands are low in profile with smaller rocks placed to represent legs. One turtle island is partnered with a crane island. The crane island was constructed merely from a group of medium-height rocks with flat tops rather than the usual vertical rock placement of other gardens and ponds. There are four stones that form an almost straight line in the pond quite near the pavilion which represent boats bound for the Isle of Eternal Life in Chinese Buddhist/Taoist mythology.
On the hillside to one side of the pavilion is a Dragon Gate cascade with the famous carp stone at its base which was constructed in the 13th century. As the tale goes, the stone is beginning its ascent to dragonhood.
The gardens of Takashima castle. Flickr: http://flic.kr/p/8sny81
Water fills the pond at Hase temple, Hase Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture.
By the pond at Sõgõ park, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa prefecture.
Beside the pond. Sõgõ park, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa prefecture.
Tortoises on a rock. Sõgõ park, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa prefecture.
A bridge over a cool pond. Sõgõ park, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa prefecture.
The lotuses are just coming into bloom.
Kamesama (turtle man) comes each day to Sõgõ koen in Hiratsuka to feed the tortoises in the pond. He has named each tortoise and calls them by name from their little island in the middle of the pond.
Click the photo for a video of kamesama feeding his tortoises.
My outside office. It was so bloody hot and humid today (33℃) so I decided to grab the iPad and go outside. It was noticeably cooler under the trees by the pond.
Pages on the iPad is wonderful. I dropped some articles I’m working on into iTunes, synced to the iPad in two seconds, and off I went to edit and work on my articles.
A red-eared slider tortoise sits on the edge of the pond at Hiratsuka Hachiman shrine, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa prefecture. A native of the southern United States, they are common in Japan due to the pet trade.
Sogo koen, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Sogo koen, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
This is kamesama or “turtleman”. He visits Sogo koen in Hiratsuka everyday rain hail or shine to feed the turtles. He has named them all and calls them by name!