The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter1. History

Akasaka Rikyu 2

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As one advances inwards a winding stream is seen, overhung with trellises of wistaria creepers which, in May, reflect their purple blossoms in the water. At this point a pretty bamboo fence and thatch-roofed gateway mark the boundary of the inner garden. Entering, past a clump of giant pines and native oaks, the path leads to a Torii* (Terii,�a trabeated framework used as an archway in front of temples.) called Ko-Saga, after the noted shrine of Saga in Kioto, and here in a shady spot stands an old stone well of clear spring water. Adjoining, is one of those fancy arbours constructed of bamboo, reeds, and plaited rushes, in the primitive and fragile style so characteristically Japanese. On a neighbouring hill another small building boasts a treasure in the shape of an antique bronze bell suspended from its eaves, which is said to have been reclaimed from the sea on the Kishiu Coast, in the thirteenth century. Groves of bamboo and pine plantations line the pathway, leading to a picturesque valley which is watered by a winding river, crossed in several places by stone bridges. Here and there the crooked branches of stunted pine trees overhang the stream. The name of Sen-Shin-Tei, or Heart-cleansing Arbour, is given to a small resting house on the river bank. The whole prospect of this charming vale is obtained from another fancy building occupying an elevated wooded spot to the south. Crossing the surrounding heights, a winding road of rugged steps descends upon a small lagoon called Tojaku-Su, or the Iris Marsh, thickly planted with flags, and spanned by a winding plank-bridge, in imitation of the Yatsuhashi landscape. The name of "Flying-geese Bridge" is given to this structure, in reference to the zigzag order taken by a flock of birds in flight.