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Garden Complex, Quebec, CAN

From 1990 to 1995, Hiroshi Sakaguchi constructed a complex of traditional Japanese garden structures for the Asian section of the internationally acclaimed Les Quatre Vents Gardens near La Malbaie in Quebec Province, Canada. The Japanese garden structures, including two viewing pavilions (one of them partially over a trout pond), a sheltered bench (machiai), and a midway gate (nakamon), is called Kan Son Tei which translates “a beautiful place to stop and view and see trout deeply.” All components for the complex were measured, shaped, hand-planed, and the joinery cut at the Ki Arts workshop by Hiroshi Sakaguchi. They were then shipped to Canada and assembled by Sakaguchi-san (see photos “stacked wooden components” and “components assembled”). He also made all the furnishings and created the framework for the landscape surrounding the pavilions. A detailed account of the creation of Kan Son Tei can be found in the book, The Greater Perfection by Frank Cabot (Hortus Press, 2001).

Irimoya-style Viewing Pavilion

The irimoya-style viewing pavilion is the main structure of Kan Son Tei. It is a fifteenth-century Japanese classical structure that would have served as a retreat for a retired samurai. Irimoya refers to its hip and gable roof structure. The pavilion is surrounded by an open veranda (engawa) with hand-cut railings. Posts on two sides of the veranda are submerged in the trout pond, and a curved half bridge connects the pond sides of the building to land. The 8 tatami-mat interior is enclosed by shoji screens in warm weather and wooden shutters (amado) in the winter. The interior includes a traditional alcove for art objects (tokonoma), a Japanese-style ornamental shelf (kazaridana), storage cupboards with sliding doors imported from Japan, and a cherry-wood tea table (chabudai).

Hoõgyo-style Pavilion

A smaller Japanese classic structure, known as Hoõgyo, lies 25 yards to the rear of the larger pavilion. Its function is that of a place from which to view and enjoy the mountains—the principle of ‘shakkei‘ or borrowed scenery. The hoõgyo-style pavilion has a pyramidal-style roof structure with multi-layered red cedar shingles and crowned with a Japanese custom-made ceramic ornament (roban). A special feature of this building is its uniquely shaped windows called kurimado or “chestnut windows”. The 4 1/2 tatami-mat interior includes a hibachi and a hand-carved pole (surigi) for hanging a kettle over the hibachi. The interior roof structure has been left exposed for architectural interest.

Sheltered Bench (machiai)

The sheltered bench, or more literally translated as “waiting building,” is a place to pause before approaching the pavilion. The posts and beams of the sheltered bench are local Canadian cedar poles.

Midway Gate (nakamon)

Constructed of Port Orford cedar, the midway gate accentuates one of the pathways to Kan Son Tei. The attached bamboo fencing, held together by black twine, helps to separate the Asian garden from the natural surroundings at Les Quatre Vents. Seen through the gate is a bamboo clapper (shishiodoshi).