plants. gardens. friends.

digthedirt is about gardening, outdoor living and loving our planet!

learn more »

Water where you want it, how you want it

by Bruce Tate (in the weeds)

Shaping the trees for visitors by boat
« 1 of 10 »

In Japan, spectacular water features are everywhere. Shrines, gardens, castles, and public squares all have unique and interesting water features. Nowhere were they more apparent than in the gardens surrounding the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo.

Our relaxed walks in our leisure time  Matsue, Japan always featured water. Castle moats, parks along the rivers and lakes, fountains, shrines, and gardens all made spectacular use of the water features. In a tour around the moats surrounding Matsue Castle, you can see that the trees are shaped for views from every conceivable angle, including sojourners along the watercourse (1). The local shrines had Temizu Basins (2) for a sacred hand washing ritual for visitors or pilgrims.


But the most interesting use of water for me was within the gardens. At the Adachi museum, famous for harmony, water was everywhere. Sometimes, streams would flow free (3, 4, 5). Small sculpted pines and meticulously placed stone work accentuated the water.


Bridges, too, provided access points (though most of the garden grounds were closed to everyday visitors). Some of the bridges simply added interest. This bridge (6) had interesting straight lines that contrasted the chaos of the shore line or the arcs in the white crushed stone near by. Others had striking curves that jumped out of the landscape (7).


Bamboo chutes, called deer chasers (8), move gently as the water travels through. Sometimes they are tightly anchored in place, but sometimes, they are intentionally left loose, providing a percussive clacking sound that is an interesting counterpoint to the trickling water. These chutes can put the water exactly where it is needed. (9)


What Japanese garden would be complete without Koi? The koi in (6) were a surprise to me. I did not notice them as I snapped the picture, but through some trick of light, they jumped out when I viewed the picture for the first time.

To the Japanese, the interplay of water and stone are the essence of harmony.



The Japanese are incredible when it comes to architecture and design both in modern and traditional times. The picture in this post are a great example of that.
polbishop commented on 04/12/16
Awe-inspiring gardens...makes me want to take a trip to Japan!
Daylilyjoy commented on 12/04/09
Just beautiful.... it must take a huge amount of maintenance to keep things looking so perfect...
chief cultivator commented on 09/11/09