Frozen moments from the infinity that is time


Kenrokuen Gardens (Kanazawa)

Due to bad planning on my part I had only a short time in Kanazawa, a mistake I hope will one day be rectified. However, I was aware that the Kenrokuen Gardens was highly rated among Japanese landscape gardens and was not disappointed.

Kenrokuen means to “have six factors”, which in this instance refers to the six attributes considered essential to a perfect landscape. These are spaciousness, tranquillity, artifice, antiquity, watercourses and a magnificent view. With the exception of artifice, each attribute is clearly evident and one can reasonably assume that the fountain (pic 10) ticks the “artifice” box given that it was Japan’s first fountain, not to mention the sophisticated engineering in 1632 to divert water from a distant river to create the garden’s watercourses.

The selected photos aim to show the tranquillity of the gardens and the several teahouses found within the grounds. Yugao-tei or the Gourd Teahouse (pics 3 to 5) was built in 1774 and originally stood on a small island in Hisagoike Pond until its relocation near the pond due to the reclamation of the island. In the foreground of pic 3, one can observe the original washbowl in front of the entrance to Yugao-tei.

Another impressive teahouse built around the same time is Uchihashi-tei (pics 7 to 9), which is supported on stone pillars and appears to hover over the Kasumiga-ike Pond. The pond is a prominent element of the Kenrokuen Gardens and Uchihashi-tei jutting out over the pond achieves a pleasant symmetry with the surrounding flora. In the bottom right of pic 10 is the Kotojitoro Lantern, which has become the symbol of Kenrokuen Gardens. The lantern’s mounting on two curved pillars, rather than the traditional single pillar, is said to take its design from the Japanese koto (harp).

As mentioned earlier the fountain at pic 10 is the oldest in Japan and whilst unspectacular by comparison with today’s fountains, it has stood the test of time and stands as evidence of the Garden’s artifice, antiquity, tranquillity and watercourses.(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)