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Sogenji monastery

Sogenji´s Garden

This garden was designed by Tsuda Eichu, the main minister of the feudal lord in 1701. He was working in cooperation with the first priest Zetsugai Osho in  making this garden. During the Edo period, the feudal lords liked this type of garden scenery very much. Using the HojoTeien garden of Tenryuji in Kyoto as a sample, it is a garden where a walk all around the lake can be enjoyed. It was built in a way that it would look wide and beautiful looking at it from the Shoin. The feudal lord would enjoy the view from inside the Shoin. In the centre is the image of a mountain, using the natural mountain and placing the stones in a way like the Horai mountain area in China where the immortal saints FUROCHOJU live. Next to the stones is the three step waterfall, which exists at the yellow river in China. In the old days in China during the Ka dynasty, the emperor wanted to stop the overflow of the yellow river, and he cut down some of the mountain to stop the overflow, so the sudden rush was stopped. This is called the U-mon waterfall. And the problem of flooding was ended for the normal people. Only when the Taifun brings strong rains, can the three level waterfall be seen in Sogenji.

The carps during March when the water gets warmer start to move upstream. But here is a three step water fall which makes their journey difficult. Only the strong carp can manage to jump across the steps by using the strength of their tail. Seeing this strong carp the Chinese say, This carp managed to go  up the steps, burning its tail, became a dragon and went up to heaven. The dragon is a symbol of the emperor. The carp is a symbol of the normal people. In this way it says that even the normal people can succeed and become close to the level of the emperor. The theme of this garden is that the normal people can also rise in their status of living and can have eternal life if strength and health is being fostered.But in truth looking at it from the Zen eye, it is different. The Sixth Patriarch's Zen spread all over China, surviving four destructions of Zen Buddhism. Since it doesn't cling and depend on statues or sutras, only on sitting meditaition, it was able to spread all through China. And this type of Zen came over to Japan. This is the meaning that the water running from the mountain of the Sixth Patriarch and spreading all over the world, is symbolizing the spreading of the teaching of  the one drop of water from Sogen.


 



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