Most days of the week, at a small pond at the foot of a Shinto shrine in Japan’s Gifu Prefecture, just outside Seki City, you can find rows of tourists setting out cameras and staring into the depths. The reason? The pond in the gardens of the shrine bears an uncanny resemblance to another pond half-way around the globe, made famous by the artist Monet. Set in the ground of the Nemichi Shrine in Japan, this pond features colourful lilies, turquoise water and a wealth of gold and orange carp. The amateur photographers are seeking to capture an image worthy of the great artist himself.
Monet’s world-famous water lilies paintings are a series numbering around 250 images, depicting the artist’s flower garden and ornamental pond at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of Monet’s work during the last thirty years of his life. The images have been celebrated the world over for the quality of light, colour and texture, and it is interesting to note that they were painted while Monet was suffering from cataracts. The diffuse, soft-focus effect of the paintings is in part perhaps attributable to this, but is also a key element in the paintings’ atmosphere.
While the shrine above is a simple hut, the pond beneath began sparking interest on Japanese social media a couple of years ago, due to its entirely accidental similarity to these paintings. The water is not only wonderfully clear but also has a painterly blue tint to it from the surrounding mountains through which the stream feeding the pool flows.The carp – something of a national obsession in Japan, may not be present in Monet’s originals, but only add to the extraordinary colour palette displayed at the beauty spot.
You can visit the nameless ‘Monet’s Pond’ at the Nemichi Shrine, Itadori, Seki, Gifu Prefecture 501-2901, Japan