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"Very little," I admitted, and asked park, a canal thirty miles long was him to enlighten me.
Japanese landscape gardening began twelve hundred years ago, when the Emperor Shomu, in residence at Nara, sent for a Chinese monk who was famed for his artistry and ordered him to beautify the ancient capital. This the monk accomplished chiefly by cutting out avenues among the lofty trees, which to this day make Nara not only a place of supreme loveliness, but one rich in the aroma of antiquity. Thus came the first period of landscape gardening in Nippon, the Tempyo period.
Five and a half centuries ago the second period began, when, in the terrain surrounding the Kinkakuji Temple at Kioto, gardens containing lakes, rocks,
constructed, and this same canal later supplied water to the city of Yedo, as the present Tokio was then called.
The current period is the fourth, and it is the aim of the present-day masters to combine in their work all
and gold-pavilioned islands were constructed in resemblance to the natural scenery near the mouth of the Yangtse River in China.
The third period is best represented by the gardens of the arsenal in Tokio. These were made three hundred years ago by a Chinese master named Shunsui, who was brought to Japan for the purpose by the Lord of Mito, brother of the shogun who at that time ruled Japan. In order to get water for this
the fine points of the preceding periods. This development is largely due to the ease of modern transportation, which has enabled the landscape gardeners of our time to travel widely and become familiar with the finest natural scenery and the best work of their distinguished predecessors. For example, the Shiobara region, in northern Japan, a district famous for its lovely little corners, has been the inspiration for many modern gardens.
"And now," said my learned friend as we paused in a little
shelter of bamboo and thatch overlooking the corner of a lake bordered with curiously formed rocks and flowering shrubs, "I will tell you the great secret of this art; for of course you understand that with us landscape gardening is definitely placed as one of the fine arts." He paused for a moment, then continued: "The one sound principle for making a garden wherever water is used is what may be called the volcanic principle. That is
to say, the artist in landscape gardening should go for his themes to places of volcanic origin; for in such places the greatest natural beauty is found.
"And why? First of all, you have hills of interesting contours, made by eruptions. Then you have mountain lakes, which form in the beds of extinct volcanoes. Our famous Lake Chuzenji, above Nikko, for example. From these lakes the water overflows, making splendid falls, like those of Kegon, which empty out of Lake Chuzenji. Below the falls you have a torrent rushing down a rocky valley, like the
makes great trees grow, with rich shrubbery and verdure beneath them. The torrent completes the landscape effect by sculpturing the rocks into fascinating forms. In that combination you have every element required. Reproduce it in miniature, and your garden is made."
This theory, so
Japanese in its completeness, charmed and satisfied me.
"Now, thought to myself, "I know." Thenceforward I looked at gardens not with the unenlightened enthusiasm of the casual amateur, but with a critic's eye. Here and there I would make a mental reservation, saying to myself that the man who made this garden had missed something in one respect or another; that the one great principle, the volcanic principle,
"But you must also remember that had not been fully carried out.
volcanic outpourings make rich soil. This soil, thrown into the air by volcanic explosions, settles in the crevices of rocks. Pines take root in it. But in some places the pocket of soil is small; wherefore the roots of the pine cannot spread, and the tree becomes a dwarf, gnarled and picturesque. Again, on the hillsides the rich soil
So time went on until presently I found myself in Kioto, the cultivated city of Japan, seated at a table, upon which were glasses and a bottle, beside one of the most interesting Japanese I had met, a man of ripe age and experience and of a philosophical turn of
mind. He loved the history, the legends, and the psychology of his native land, and enjoyed sifting them through
the interpretative screen of his own. intelligence.
I listened to him with the most eager interest, gathering odd bits of Japanese lore that fascinated me.
"To boast," said he, "is, according to our point of view, one of the cardinal sins. We so detest boasting that we go to the other extreme, depreciating anything or anybody connected with ourselves. Thus, when some one says to me, 'Your brother has amassed a great fortune; he must be a man of great ability,' I will reply: 'He is not so very able. Perhaps he is only lucky.' As a matter of fact, it happens that my brother is a man of exceptional ability. But I must not say so; it is not good form for me to praise his qualities.
"In speaking of our wives and children we do the same. We say, 'my poor wife,' or, 'my insignificant wife,' although our wives may fulfil our idea of everything a woman should be.
"Also the reverse of this proposition is true. We sometimes signify our disapproval or dislike of some one by speaking of him in terms of too high praise.
"Among ourselves we fully understand these things. It is merely a code we follow. But I fear that this practice sometimes causes foreigners to misunderstand us. Being themselves accustomed to speak literally, they are inclined to take us so. Also,
they are not likely to realize that we are most critical of those for whom we have profound regard. Why should we waste our time or our critical consideration upon persons who mean nothing to us or whom we dislike?
"Yet, after all," he continued, with a little twinkle in his eye, "human nature is much the same the world over. There was an American here in Kioto once who used to forbid his wife and sister to smoke cigarettes, but I observed that he was quick to pass his cigarette-case to other ladies."
He drifted on to a further discussion of differences between the point of view of Japan and that of the Occident.
"For three thousand years," said he, "our emperors never lived behind a fortification. There was no need of it. The present imperial palace at Tokio is, to be sure, protected by a moat and great stone walls, but that
was originally built for shoguns, and was
taken over by the imperial house only at the time of the restoration.
"Our old Japanese idea
is that the emperor is the father of his people. There is a certain reverence, yet a certain democracy, too, in our feeling on this subject. We who have the old ideas regret that the emperor now appears in a military or naval uniform. It is too much like the European way, too much like abandoning the feeling that he is the head of the family. For a uniform seems to make him only a part of the army or the navy.
"But we had to modify our customs to suit those of other nations. Ambassadors began to come from foreign lands. The emperor did not wish to see them, but was obliged to do so because they represented great powers to whom we could not say no.
"At first, when the emperor received ambassadors, he wore his ancient imperial robes and was seated upon cushions, Japanese fashion. But the ambassadors were arrayed in brilliant uniforms covered with decorations, and in accordance with their home customs they stood in the imperial presence. They would stand before
a European king or an American President. Therefore it seemed to them respectful to stand before our emperor.
"But, according to our customs, that is the worst thing that can happen. We must always be lower than the emperor; we must not even look from a second-story window when he drives by. The emperor's audience-room was so constructed that he sat in an elevated place at the head of a flight of steps. But even so, one never entered his presence standing fully erect. The idea of deference was visibly indicated by a stooping position, and as one ascended the steps toward the imperial person, one bent over more and more, until, on reaching the plane on which the emperor was seated, one knelt, with bowed head, so as still to be below him.
"A foreigner, on the other hand, wishing to show proper respect to an exalted personage, would make a bow from the waist and then assume a stiffly erect attitude, almost like a soldier standing at attention. Can you imagine an Occidental admiral or general, with his tight uniform, heavy braid, and sword, approaching any one upon his hands and knees? It would be foreign to his nature and training, not to say ruinous to his costume.
"Moreover, the important foreigners who came to Japan at the beginning of the period of transition were gorgeous with gold lace and jeweled decorations. Up to that time we had no decorations and no modern uniforms and trappings of rank. Even our emperor, in his magnificent robes, was not adorned with gold braid, and no jewels flashed from his breast.
"Naturally, then, we had to change. We created new orders of nobility; decorations were devised, uniforms
were designed, all according to the European plan. In the old days we had shogun, daimio, and samurai. Now we have princes of the blood, princes not of the blood, marquises, counts, viscounts, and barons. We have decorations to shine with foreign decorations. We have field-marshals and admirals to meet the foreign fieldmarshals and admirals."
He sighed, and looked through the open window to the garden shimmering in moonlight.
"Sometimes," he said, reflectively, "it seems to me that the only place where the spirit of old Japan can feel at home is when it wanders through our ancient gardens. They are unchanged."
"That is very gratifying," said the philosopher, politely.
It was indeed very gratifying. My memory was good. I casually mentioned the four periods of Japanese landscape gardening, making easy references to the Emperor Shomu, the scenery near the mouth of the Yangtse River, and the Chinese master Shunsui. Then I began to explain.
"Of course," I said, "the one great secret of the art is to apply the volcanic principle. One should go for themes to places of volcanic origin-places like Lake Chuzenki and Nikko, places where lakes, formed in the beds of extinct volcanoes; overflow, making beautiful waterfalls and torrents which rush through rocky valleys. There,
He paused, still gazing through the of course, is the basis for your entire open window, then went on: garden composition."
"That is another thing I must talk to you about. We Japanese have a profound feeling about gardens. The structure of a garden is a matter of the first importance. You must see some of our gardens."
"I have done so already," I replied. "I have taken pains to visit many of them, and I-"
"But," he interrupted, "I am not speaking entirely of vision in the sense of sight. One must have understanding of these things. I am talking of the basic principles upon which every garden should be made."
"That is just what I am talking about," I returned enthusiastically. "It happens that I have made a study of your theory of gardens."
I must own that I did not speak without a certain complacency. I had the comfortable feeling that always comes to one who hears a subject broached and feels himself well equipped to discuss it.
He sat staring at me; his eyes shone. Evidently he was impressed.
"Of course," I resumed, "volcanic explosions throw rich soil into "
"Stop!" he cried, half rising from his chair. "Who gave you those theories? Where did you learn them?" "In Tokio," I answered proudly, “I happened to meet-"
"Never mind whom you met," he broke in, his voice shaking with intensity. "These things you have been saying are terrible-terrible. Such ideas are ruining art and beauty in Japan. A garden of that kind is an abomination."
I sat stunned.
"The thing above all others to keep away from," he continued vehemently, "is anything volcanic. That should be apparent to any one-any one. The very cause of volcanic structure is violence. It is the embodiment of turmoil, unrest." He made a wild gesture with his arms. "A volcano blows