Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Shishi Odoshi for All to See

This is a shishi odoshi (鹿威し). I'd seen one before, but did not know the name until we encountered this one at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford recently.

It's a hollow bamboo tube balanced on a small upright, with one end sealed. Water from another bamboo pipe fills the tube, and when it's close to full, it pivots on the upright and dumps its collection of water. The tube then drops back down, sealed end first, to make a pop against a rock below. Its traditional function was to scare off animals (deer, mainly) who might want to feast on the garden's plants. These days it serves the visual and aural aesthetic of the garden.

I'm not an authority on Japanese gardens, or even an enthusiast, but I know I like that feature. The big-picture bridges and ponds and trees and water features at Anderson please the senses as they should, but I also made an effort to see some of the details too -- the smaller bits of Japanese garden artistry, such as the shishi odoshi but also another fountain:

A stone pagoda nestled in the trees and undergrowth.

And a spheroid stone cat. With emblems of primate fertility?

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