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David M. Cobb

Strolling Pond Garden

Our Strolling Pond Garden (chisen kaiyu shiki teien) consists of Upper and Lower Ponds connected by an enticing stream. The Upper Pond features a Moon Bridge, while the Lower Pond has a zig-zag (yatsuhashi) bridge through beds of iris against the backdrop of a stunning waterfall.

Strolling pond gardens were intended as recreational sites for the wealthy and were attached to the estates of aristocrats and feudal lords (daimyo) during the Edo period (1603–1867), when this style of garden was at its height. These gardens were sometimes created to be reflections of a landscape of some distant place once visited, or the place of one’s birth, or even a famous place in China. An earlier style of pond garden called chisen senyu shiki was popular during the Heian period (794–1185), but the earlier gardens were typically viewed from boats floating on ponds rather than strolling along pathways near the water. Both of these styles have served as inspiration for poetry and art, but in Edo times the larger scale and grand style of the Strolling Pond Garden served the daimyo’s interest in luxury and the display of wealth.

View a virtual tour of the Upper Pond area, photographed from the Moon Bridge in summer and fall.