The Garden Guide

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

Ginkakuji Silver by Soami

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The grounds of Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion were laid out by the artist Sho-ami, in about the year 1480. It was to this spot that Yoshimasa retired after transferring the reins of active government to his successor. Kinkakuji, as designed for his predecessor Yoshimitsu, was copied to some extent in the arrangement of the buildings and landscape. Though much out of repair, this garden forms even now one of the noted sights of the old capital. It contains an extensive lake, thickly planted with lotuses, and backed by a magnificently wooded hill. A cascade, several islands, and numerous granite bridges adorn the grounds. Considerable care was bestowed by Shoami on the selection and arrangement of the garden stones, which are of rare and curious shapes, distinguished by characteristic fancy names. The foreground was originally spread with white sand ornamentally raked in patterns, and there existed a circular sanded plateau, called the Kogetsu-Dai, used for viewing the effect of the moonlight upon the landscape. A bubbling spring of the purest water gushes out in one portion of the grounds. The surrounding hills and islands are adorned with pine trees and other evergreens of interesting shapes, and a mound towards the West is thickly planted with azaleas and reddening maples. Plate XXXVI. gives some idea of the arrangement of this garden as originally planned, though the drawing is lacking in correctness of detail. Here also age and neglect have combined to change convention into nature, and almost obliterate the aid of art and artifice.