Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yatsuhashi in Japan

One of my favorite features found within the Japanese Stroll Gardens (Edo) is the Yatsuhashi.

As can be seen in the above picture of Shohinken in Yatsushiro, Kumomoto Prefecture, the yatsuhashi takes the form of a bridge composed of 8 planks wandering through a bed of iris, though not finishing very far from its beginning. The iris found in Shohinken are a special variety known as Higo Iris (肥後花菖蒲), and were blooming earlier than when the pervious photograph had been taken. (For better pictures see more images at

The yatsuhashi would seem to be a recognizable symbol from Japanese literature, specifically "The Tales of Ise," depicting an 8-channeled river.* However another attribute with which it has been imbued is the philosophy I especially enjoy- "It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."†

The final picture of a yatsuhashi traversing rather symbolic iris beds comes from the large stroll garden of Okayama. In the short period I spent in Okayama (and not being able to read much kanji), I found only 3 things that would have made the visit worth the trip... one was closed, another was small, underground, but very interesting, and the third was the garden. If you ever find yourself going past Okayama, stop and stroll through the garden- it is very much worth it!

*Keane, Marc. Japanese Garden Design. Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Co., Inc. Boston, MA. 1999.
†Japanese Gardens and Japanese Garden Design. Online: Accessed 13 May, 2004. (Link provided for bibliography only- no longer goes to referenced content. You may visit archived content via:

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