National

Kumamoto garden's spring-fed pond dries up

Kyodo

A traditional garden in Kumamoto landscaped around a spring-fed pond has mostly dried up since earthquakes started rocking Kyushu in April.

The park, Suizenji Jojuen, has been closed since April 16, when the first quake that struck Kumamoto caused a large stone gateway to collapse. The park will reopen on May 16, but its operators are worried about the impact the dried-up pond will have on tourism. They are not planning to charge admission in May because they want as many people as possible to see what happened.

Although Kumamoto Prefecture is famous for having abundant groundwater, about 70 percent of the park’s 10,000-sq.-meter pond has dried up. And the parts that still have water are about 30 cm lower than before.

“Even though we have added water drawn from a well to the pond, most of it is gone. This is the first time we have experienced this,” said Toru Iwata, a 68-year-old priest at Izumi Shrine, which manages the park. Iwata said the pond bed seems to have absorbed the water and it’s unclear why the spring is no longer flowing.

In addition to the shrine’s 10-meter-high granite gateway, the park also lost several stone lanterns toppled by the quake. The gateway was built in 1910 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of feudal warlord Hosokawa Yusai.

“I believe the park can be restored because it has history,” said Yuji Yamada, 70, the owner of a traditional Japanese sweets shop near the park.

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