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Visit to Teikanen

2015.09.02

I have been longing for the participation in membership tours of Jusendou Garden Group, and eventually had the opportunity to join the one to Teikanen in Niigata prefecture on 2th August. I travelled long way to Kashiwazaki and joined other members at Kashiwazaki Station. Just after I got off the bus and started walking up the slope from an outer entrance by the highway, I felt the mystic world of Teikanen begin. The deeper I walked into the dark forest toward the garden through winding path, the higher my expectation became. When I bumped into a local road and a small river with smoothing sound, I was out of breath.

The main entrance of Teikanen was so wide and deep that I could not stop expecting devices in the garden to entertain visitors. There are 3 approaches named ‘真-Sin’ ‘行-Gyo’ ‘草-Sou’ – associated with Chinese writing style. They are not merely paths but gardens. Unfortunately, the gate of ‘Sin’ was closed. The garden is a bit chaotic having Karesansui and Tsukubai together. Perhaps it is a result of layers of history that this garden saw, where couple of owners in each age gave transformations.

I entered the house via ‘Gyo’ approach, and looked into the main garden lying in southwest direction. This garden is designed to admire from inside the architecture, hence, I could enjoy the pleasant view that the past owner and his guests did. Three artificial hills in front sit in the same distance from the building, which minimalize the depth of the view of the garden reminding me of the technique from traditional Japanese landscape painting. If there weren’t overgrown cedars around the hills, we could see one clear outline of 3 hills flaming the background scenery of mountains, and perhaps great contrast at the time of sunrise. In addition, there is a waterfall arranged with smooth round rock in the middle of scenery. The way this waterfall drops is very elegant, splashing water to the left and right. Furthermore, The large step stones are arranged in dynamic but also in a graceful manner evoking those of Katsurarikyu.

Behind the southwest oriented garden, there is another garden that is laid into northwest direction. In contrast to previous one, the scenery of this garden has ultimate depth. In general, Japanese garden with a pond is long in west to east direction as it is intended to be best to admire the moon. This garden long in north to south direction is unique but effective with plenty of sunshine coming into and lighting up details of this long and deep garden. I presume this was almost coincidence that the designer came up after working with natural landform, but I should say it is genuine. Observing from corridor, the eyes are drawn to deeper with the complexed shoreline, rock arrangement, bridge and a Japanese lantern by the pond named ‘Shinji-Ike’. A large rock- the form of this rock looks like a cow for my eyes’ and a lantern at front emphasize the depth. This perspective composition is well considered, reminding me of a method in Katsurarikyu.

I have to confess that I did not have a chance to stroll around this garden at this time of visit. I must come back again to have more observation for structures, teahouse, and buildings coming up during the stroll.

Yoshiki Toda

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