by Josiah Conder
This is a large lotus-lake situated just below the elevated ground now
occupied by the Uyeno Park, and containing a prettily wooded peninsula, with a shrine amidst the trees dedicated to the goddess Benten. The conversion of the surrounding shores into a modern race-course within recent years has somewhat destroyed its wild and picturesque character, but, regarded from the neighbouring heights, it still presents a fair example of a particular type of Japanese scenery, often reproduced in the landscape gardens of the country.
The lake is said to have been excavated under the direction of the priest Jigen Daishi, in 1625, when a temple was first founded at Uyeno, and with the intention of imitating on a small scale the famous Lake Biwa, in the province of Omi.
The little shrine to Benten, a goddess specially associated with lakes and lotuses, originally stood on an island, which was visited from the shore in boats. The causeway which now converts this island into a promontory or peninsula was added in the year 1660.
Reed-covered marshes and a wavy sea of emerald lotus leaves, sprinkled with pink and white at blossom time, the whole set off by gnarled pine trees, and surrounding wooded bluffs, impart to it considerable natural beauty at certain seasons.
The illustration here given has been selected partly to show in detail the mass of graceful undulating lotus leaves contrasted with the pine, the monarch among the trees of Japan, the soul of nearly every landscape real or artificial, and the emblem in Japanese art of all that is virile and enduring.
Source: Supplement to Landscape gardening in Japan by Josiah Conder (1852-1920); Kengo Ogawa. Tokio: Kelly and Walsh, 1893.