|Dry stream with flat pebbles indicating flow. Shinnyo-in, Kyoto.|
|Broad shallow stream. Murin-an, Kyoto.|
In the Heian period (785-1184) courtyard garden, the yarimizu (遣水), or winding stream was considered an important element of the design. The streams were created with shallow flows, where water rippled over gravel beds and there would be places along the bank where people could sit and watch the movement. Streams were created with convoluted courses that wound across the courtyards, sometimes the streams would run under buildings or raised wooden walkways connecting buildings, which give another perspective on viewing them. The presence of the stream running under a building would carry with it an malevolent energies, and so the stream acts as a cleansing agent.
In the Sakuteiki (‘Records of Garden Making’, compiled mid to late 11th century), instructions based on geomantic considerations are given as to the most propitious directions for the stream to run through a property; namely rising in the east, running under one corner of the main building and heading off in a south-westerly direction. This was to ensure the proper cleansing of the domestic spaces, removing any malevolent influences from the site. According to geomantic tradition the stream represents the flow of ‘Dragon energy’, ie the vital force, ch’i . The inner bank of the curving stream representing the belly of the Dragon, and the outer curve representing the back of the Dragon. The placement of a house or pavillion on the ‘inner bank’ assured its protection. Another geomantic theory considers the flow of the stream from north to south as representing the union of yin and yang elements, thus creating cosmic harmony.
|'Winding stream', Jonagu Jinja, Kyoto.|
|Meandering stream and waterfall into pond. Taizo-in, Kyoto.|
|A 'dry' river flowing beneath a bridge. Daisen-in, Kyoto|