Japanese Sister City Program

Pond and Stream Design

Usage/Symbolism Ponds symbolize the ocean. Water was revered as a purifying, life-giving form in ancient Japan. Rocks are considered the “skeleton” of the earth and of a garden.

Plants used in a Japanese pond design include Japanese Iris (iris ensata), Japanese Maple Trees (acer palmatum), and Cherry Blossoms (sakura).

Waterless rock and sand gardens portray scenes of mountain views and rivers. The sand and gravel is raked into careful patterns to symbolize rivers while the rocks represent mountains. The grouping can be done randomly or in patterns but tradition says stones should be placed in odd numbers. Placing these gardens in existing scenery brings about the illusion of seeing mountains from a distance.

Other Interesting Information Water enters the garden from the east or southeast and flows toward the west. The east is the home of the Green Draqon (Seiryu), an ancient Chinese divinity adapted in Japan. The west is the home of the White Tiger, the divinity of the east. Water flowing east-to-west will carry away evil and the owner of the garden will be healthy and have a long life.

Research conducted by: Cody Peeler, BSA Troop 138

Citations “Samurai Tours Adventures in Discovering Traditional Japan” [https://www.samuraitours.com/japanese-garden-elements-part1/
“Japanese Garden” [https://en.wikipedia.org; 2 Garden Elements; 2.1 Water]
“Gardening Know How” [https://www.gardeningknowhow.com; Flowers and Plants for Japanese Gardens]
“Chicago Botanic Garden” [https://www.chicagobotanic.org]
“Japanese Gardens – Rock Gardens” [http://www.home-designing.com/2013/08/japanese-gardens]