Inspired by an iwakura cliff rock formation on the west side of the temple, he designed a garden for the gods. There are four gods that protect the four heavenly directions. The garden is broken into four offset quadrants (to eliminate a sense of symmetry) corresponding to 4 Chinese gods of directions: Red Phoenix (South-fire), Blue Dragon (East-wood), White Tiger (West-metal), Black Tortoise (North-water) [note that these are the same symbols used in Feng Shui. ed.] The sand in each quadrant shifts color: black, pale blue, white and reddish sand (from Kurama). Shigemori stated that the four animals are intended to be chasing each other in a counter-clockwise circle of life in front of the Hojo. The sand is raked so that the turbulence of the water indicates the direction of the flow. Usually Shigemori encouraged his clients to come up with their own raking patterns, so it is unclear if the current patterns are his or the temples. Similar to his other work, Shigemori used the bamboo fence as a way to mark the site by placeing the characters for ‘four gods’ written in bamboo. Many Japanese criticize this as too direct, but Tschumi points out that for Shigemori, a painter, the fence was simply acting as another canvas. Actual installation was probably done in 3-4 weeks. The garden is open to the public during daylight hours.
Transport: From JR Hukuchi-yama line, Tanba Takeda Station, go NE 1.4 km.
Looking afar at Qiantang Bridge,
I watch a green train
snip off the wind