Shosei-en Garden dates back to the ninth century, when it was built by Prince Minamoto Notooru. According to legend, he designed the pond to remind him of the seacoast of northern Honshu. To get the proper effect, he filled the pond with seawater brought from Osaka Bay. The current garden dates back to 1643, when a famed landscape artist, Ishiyama Saijo, was commissioned to create a garden. Over time, fires have occasionally destroyed the garden structures, but today's garden has been faithfully restored to the original design.
It's a strolling garden, which means that the paths and viewpoints have been designed to evoke a series of different images and different feelings. There's a graceful arched bridge at one end of the pond, while another view highlights rocks along the shore and a third reveals a cove filled with water lilies. The overall philosophy is to give as many images of nature as possible within a small space.
Shosei-en Garden is not worth seeking out unless you are a garden buff. However, it is a rewarding spot for a brief respite if you are in the area and in need of some peace and serenity.
by Foxboro Marmot
December 14, 2003
From journal Adventures in Kyoto