Follow the light / by William Cook

Over the years I have discovered and marveled at two really good ways the garden light illustrates SEASONALITY at Momiji-en.


Our bedroom faces east and we wake up facing the rising sun. Watching the sun move from the southern extreme of the winter solstice (seen far right through the bedroom windows) to the northern extreme of the summer solstice, (seen far left through the bedroom windows) one keeps track of where it appears on the morning horizon. Its movement can be followed by noting the changing markers on the horizon (roofs, trees, etc.). I am always amazed at how quickly it moves, day by day!


The other seasonally triggered, light-revealing method is illustrated in the konsho hira niwa, or upper flat garden. The shadow of the house’s northern eaves falls parallel to the house across the garden, east to west. Winter solstice marks the furthest the shadow travels to the north and rests at the north edge of the bridge.


Equinox shadows (both spring and autumn) fall about eight feet closer to the house or mid-way to the engawa edge. Both shadows were photographed at mid-day.

At the summer solstice the shadow has receded completely off the garden and lines up neatly on the edge of the garden room engawa.

There’s always so much to learn from and be enlightened by Nature! But you must pay attention and recognize when the garden speaks!