The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 6. Garden Enclosures

Garden gateways and Soji guchi

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GARDEN GATEWAYS. The enclosures of gardens are provided with various kinds of entrances. It is considered imperative that even the smallest garden should have two Gateway�one forming the principal entrance, and the other a back entrance, called Soji-guchi, or "Sweeping Opening," because of its use when clearing away the litter and rubbish from the garden. The back entrance is generally a wooden or bamboo gate of the simplest kind, but its position is of great importance. The form of Entrance Gateway varies with the kind of enclosure in which it is placed. The outer boundaries of large gardens will be provided with handsome gate-buildings including a porter's lodge, double-barred doors, and a gate for pedestrians which often contains a small wicket. Elaborate architectural constructions of this sort are, however, somewhat ouside the subject of gardening. The ordinary garden entrance-way, suitable for boarded or bamboo fences, consists of two vertical posts having a cross-tie framed between them at a point some little distance below the top. Occasionally an extra cross-piece or lintel of crooked wood is added below this, to impart an antiquated character to the construction. The style of the garden�rough or elaborate�determines whether the timbers of such Gateways should be squared, planed, and provided with metal cappings, or simply left round, and rough; in some cases the wood will be charred or worm-eaten. The fancy for quaintness and artistic dilapidation is carried so far that in some instances the horizontal tie is broken off short at one end in a ragged manner, suggestive of decay. Antique looking tablets of wood containing an inscription are also introduced between the two lintels. The words inscribed may be briefly descriptive of the style of garden,�such as "Tamagawa Tei," meaning "Gem River Garden;" or they may merely convey a pretty sentiment in keeping with its character. The doors of such Gateways are constructed of light frames filled in with boarding, and furnished with cusped panels, pierced carving, or lattice-work. Some gates are formed of rail-work, with portions made to slide open, like the outer doorways to ordinary city dwellings.