[Showing tree structure]

May 23. 2013 Visiting Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa No.4


As crossing bridge from Onrindo, Shoiken has emerged over a pond squarely spread out on the left. As the bank line on Shoiken side is parallel to the architecture and the front side is parallel to the pathway, it is hard to judge by the naked eye but the allotment is arranged slightly widen toward the big pond. Seemingly, the subtle widening collects vision to bring naturalistic ambience to the site.

Shoiken is a country-styled teahouse with thatched hip roof attaching Kokera-otoshi (veneer roofing method) at the eave. Long Nobedan (paved-over path of uniform width) paved in the front is called “Cursive Steppingstone” arranged in sharp and modern design. Also, the straight bank line functions as a dock at same time highlights the architecture with taking a role as framing from the bottom.

The room has a large-sized window that fully incorporates sun light from the southwest, used to provide the view of countryside scenery with farmers working at the time of the completion. Design of the window back is popular with unconventional design of gold foil sharply cutting through checkered patterned velvet base.

Spacious lawn spreads out as moving toward Shoin (a ceremonial room for meeting guests). That dynamic space with steppingstones lining up in straight to the architecture is a sports field for equestrian, archery, and Kemari (traditional kickball). The design of steppingstones at the approach of Shoin ignores all gambits written in books of garden making, and proclaims modernity applicable to even nowadays.

Step forward to the last teahouse Gepparo that was built for moon watching as the name implies, and situated on the stonewall as well as facing toward east as same as Shoin does. Checkered pattern of Fusuma (sliding door) in Shokintei at distance can be seen vividly over the water surface from “Nakanoma (the middle room).”As structures in Japanese garden are always under the relation of “to see and to be seen,” this can be cited as a good typical example. There is a sickle-shaped water basin in the shape of a sickle among several Tsukubai in the tea garden, and that is certainly appropriate to Gepparo on the theme of autumn expressing the harvest season.

At the last, we enjoyed the space consisting of the middle gate and the front garden of Koshiyose (parking space for carriage). Nobedan called “Genuine Steppingstone” hedges, and the middle gate are allocated in the front garden. All of those elements are neither paralleled nor perpendicular to Shoin, but have intended to be shifted subtly. In addition, to show the garden bigger, the perspective techniques are employed in the design of steppingstones, column spacing at the architecture, and so on. Sizes of 4 squire steppingstones starting from right outside of the middle gate are arranged getting smaller little by little, meantime, the spacing between each steppingstone get wider and wider as they get away from the gate. Actual measurement of the fourth stone compared with the third stone is 5mm smaller.

Chozubachi and Tourou take roles in great effect as framed by each gate. What the interesting finding was that Oribe-Tourou standing on a slope is leaned toward front. It would never be revealed if taking the picture only from right in front, but it would be assumed that the posture was modified so that it would not be appeared leaning toward back as seen from the right in front.

Even though taking for about 2 hours to slowly stroll around, too much information received from the space had left me headache. Maybe, it is compensation to desire of leaning rather than just enjoying sightseeing. Those carefully calculated details never give overanxious impression because of based on the concept to represent the tale of Genji that contains the indigenous principle that tried to fuse the lifestyle and seasonal changes in Japan. While at this visit was only strolling around as regretting superficial knowledge, for next time, more observation in the landscape axis, spatial density in sequence, soundscape, flow of the wind, varied elevation in sequence, and relation between architectural design and garden design, can be examined as strolling.


Yoshiki Toda

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