The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 12. Garden Composition

Sanded reception gardens Sunagata niwa

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Under the head of Fancy Gardens, reference must be made to a curious conventional treatment applied to sanded areas�called Sunagata-niwa�facing reception rooms in certain important gardens, and already illustrated in Figure 12, page 58. The example given is taken from a portion of the grounds of Hotta, the Daimio of Kaga, at Kanazawa, as specially prepared in ancient times for the honour of a visit from the Shogun. A row of oblong, round, and irregular shaped stones are arranged so as to form a rectangular walk in front of the sanded surface, which is raked into patterns to represent in a conventional manner water and waves, and on which no one but the gardener was allowed to walk. In this sea of sand are placed three rocks or rock-groups, two of which are broad and flattish in form, intended to represent tortoises, and one vertical in character, signifying a crane. The congratulatory symbolism conveyed by these representations has already been explained. A few plants and grasses are placed between the rocks, which are covered with moss and lichen. Complimentary gardens of this kind, called Onari-niwa, or "Gardens of the August Visit," were often temporarily constructed in former times to celebrate special occasions, the pine tree, bamboo, and sometimes the plum tree being among the emblems of felicitation introduced.