The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 10. Ornamental Water

Garden lakes Horai and Seiko

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GARDEN LAKES. According to the character of landscape indicated, the Lakes of gardens may represent mountain lochs, lagoons, and occasionally the open sea. The favourite classical model is the extensive lagoon of Che Chiang in China*,�called Seiko by the Japanese,�remarkable for its wealth of lotuses. It is this expanse of water that is invariably represented in the lotus ponds of temple and monastery grounds. Another imaginary model, is the China Sea, in which were supposed to exist the three Elysian Islands of Chinese mythology**. When�as in this and similar examples�the open ocean is suggested in a Garden Lake, the illusion is assisted by means of a beach of pebbles or sand, with sea-rocks scattered in the foreground. Island bridges and water plants, both of which characterise ordinary lake scenery, are purposely avoided, as the idea of a sea view must be consistently maintained. Native writers classify Lakes according to their shapes, as round, square, half-moon shape, crescent-shape, flowing-water shape, water (ideograph) shape, heart (ideograph) shape, and dragon shape. The principal forms will be understood from Figure 29, in which ideographs are appended to the shapes named after them, and the inlets and outlets of the water are indicated by the letters I and O. The round, square, and half-moon shapes are rarely found, except in the tiny ponds for gold fish which adorn some small gardens. The geometrically designed canals and fountain-basins of European gardens have no counterpart in Japan, but the capricious irregularity of natural water scenery is studiously imitated, and if the source of supply be of necessity artificial, it is carefully concealed, and the semblance of a natural inlet is created. [*Zhejiang, or Che-chiang, or Chekiang is a province in China. The word Zhejiang, or Crooked River, was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital. Conder is referring to the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, called Seiko in Japanese] [** Horai Islands in Japanese and Penglai Islands in Chinese]