29 posts tagged water
Naramachi, Nara Japan on Flickr.
A traditional stone tsukubai on the street outside a house in Naramachi, Nara. The rustic and traditional bamboo fence behind, the white gravel and sparse plantings contrast with the modern concrete alcove into which it is built.
The tsukubai is fed by an out of sight pipe under the alcove above that dribbles water down from above.
Ponds in Japanese gardens.
Second to the importance of stones in the Japanese garden is a stream, pond or waterfall. Water is abundant in Japan with it’s very mountainous terrain and the inclusion of a waterfall or pond represents in miniature the swift rivers, lakes and falls of Japan. In the Heian period (794-1185) spacious gardens with ponds based on Chinese ideals were built by the aristocracy. Members of the noble class used to drift leisurely along on these huge ponds in dragon boats, admiring the views.
Islands placed in ponds, sometimes nothing more than a series of small stones, reflect the country’s archipelago scattered across the sea.
Ponds in Japanese gardens are nearly always irregular in shape and depth which creates a natural look, but there are also certain shapes that add a layer of symbolism based on the Buddhist and Shintō religions. One such popular shape is that of a gourd while another is that in the shape of a cloud. There are also shapes that evoke the kanji for certain words such as 水 (water) and 霊 (spirit). The shoreline of such ponds is usually low with sparse plantings and pebbled edges. Reeds such as Equisetum hyemale (tokusa) are often planted in such ponds between the stones.
The edges of ponds are planted with aquatic plants such as Lysichiton camtschatcesis (mizu bashō), or Acorus gramineus (sekishō). Sekishō is probably one of the most common across Japan found around ponds. A native grass, it tolerates being submerged in water and grows naturally in wet places along rocky mountain streams.
Other popular aquatic plants are the Japanese irises: Iris ensata (hana shōbu) being the main one. The religiously important lotus, Nelumbo nucifera (hasu) are planted in shallow ponds and are often found in old castle moats and wells today. They are also popularly found in ponds and large clay pots in Buddhist temples.
Aquatic plants aren’t allowed to cover an entire pond, no matter how big or small, as the idea of a pond is to reflect the colours of the plantings at it’s edge, the stone placements, and the sky. Ponds are also placed close by buildings and religious structures to offer a clear reflection of the architecture. Often a stone lantern is placed at the edge of a pond and positioned so that it’s reflection is easily seen from an advantageous viewing position, either from a seat or the end of a pathway. A stone lantern placed at the edge of a pond also serves a double duty as it can provide light at night that reflects and dances across the water adding interest.
Larger ponds tend to have a pebbled shore with sparse plantings and in some Buddhist temples a ford of large pebbles is left to divide a pond at a narrow section, referring to Ama no hashidate - the Bridge to Heaven.
As in the rest of the garden, the placement of stones around a pond is extremely important and follows some well established rules. Smooth round stones are used to portray a slow flowing area, emphasising erosion. Sharp craggy rocks are placed usually at the start of a waterfall or in an area that portrays a jagged shoreline, emphasising wild, wind swept cliffs etc.
Some farmers have devised unique ways to catch water run off. Here a farmer has used some carpet, an electric carpet, and some corrugated plastic to catch water running off an embankment into an old bath tub.
Water collects in a bucket having been diverted from a stream at the top of Mount Koma. The pipe carrying the water is hidden within the top of this small bamboo fence. Flickr: http://flic.kr/p/9WkRVS
Well, winter has set in and now it’s bloody cold!
A fast running river in the mountains of Isehara, Kanagawa prefecture.
Waves. Atami, Izu peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture.
Waterfall, Isehara, Kanagawa prefecture.
Almost all farmers draw water using these old fashioned pump-taps. And you thought Japan was all high-tech.
Water fills the pond at Hase temple, Hase Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture.
A river deep in the Tanzawa mountains.
A swan in the moat of the Takeda shrine, Kõfu, Yamanashi prefecture.
Water spills off into the moat of Matsumoto castle, Matsumoto Nagano prefecture.
In this heat it is so tempting to just wade through the cool waters of the rice fields!
Here in Japan it’s summer and it has been in the mid-to-high 30’s for two weeks. Water is being sought out everywhere as the heat wave goes on.