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  • Location: Japan

The Office of Gardens and Ponds

The Office of Gardens and Ponds

Why a Booktrail?

The fate of the village which sends the carp to the Imperial Palace is under threat..

  • ISBN: 978-0857057600
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

The village of Shimae is thrown into turmoil when master carp-catcher Katsuro suddenly drowns in the murky waters of the Kusagawa river. Who now will carry the precious cargo of carp to the Imperial Palace and preserve the crucial patronage that everyone in the village depends upon?

Step forward Miyuki, Katsuro’s grief-struck widow and the only remaining person in the village who knows anything about carp. She alone can undertake the long, perilous journey to the Imperial Palace, balancing the heavy baskets of fish on a pole across her shoulders, and ensure her village’s future.

So Miyuki sets off. Along her way she will encounter a host of remarkable characters, from prostitutes and innkeepers, to warlords and priests with evil in mind. She will endure ambushes and disaster, for the villagers are not the only people fixated on the fate of the eight magnificent carp.

But when she reaches the Office of Gardens and Ponds, Miyuki discovers that the trials of her journey are far from over. For in the Imperial City, nothing is quite as it seems, and beneath a veneer of refinement and ritual, there is an impenetrable barrier of politics and snobbery that Miyuki must overcome if she is to return to Shimae

Travel Guide

Travel through ancient Japan BookTrail style…


Miyuki lives in the village of Shimae and she’s never left it. It’s been her life and everything she has ever known. When her husband dies, she loses him and the security and home they shared and created together. It’s small, but a place to hide from the world. The world of the imperial city.

“In Shimae” she says, “everything was here, and not over there”.

She has to deconstruct the world she lives in to honour the last remaining memory of her husband. Muyiki embarks on a journey difficult in more ways than one.  It’s not just a physical journey but a personal one and a very challenging and emotional one too. According to strict custom, she should have stayed at home in seclusion for around 30 days, so is making the land and those she meets ‘impure’.

The Imperial City

Mayiki’s journey to this place is fraught with danger. She walks across rural land, rivers,land covered in forests and gnarled roots. As she walks, the ‘invisible thread’ which links her back to Shimae becomes more strained. This is a powerful image and one which lingers throughout the story.

This is a journey on so many levels. There are so many threads winding and twisting their way to the conclusion. Mayiki makes a trail , leaves a trail and follows several all at once.

The Office of Gardens and Ponds

Situated inside the Imperial Palace, in a  pavillion inspired by Chinese archetecture. It has a stone built foundation, a wooden structure surrounded by pillars and a curved roof.We are told this hadn’t officially existed since 896 when it was incorporated into the Office of the Emperor’s Table. Those at the palace start to thin kthat this widow will be old and the village should lose the honour of providing these fish to the royal ponds.

This world could not be more different to the one the widow has left behind. It’s closeted, secretive, dangerous and protected.


BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Office of Gardens and Ponds

Destination: Japan  Author/guide: Didier Decoin Departure Time: 1000AD

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