The Curious Japanese Garden South of Prague

The huge gold fish swam in the pond before us. It was teeming with them, the fish climbing over each other to get a breath of air, or to get out of the water, or who knows what they were after.

“If the fish jump up the little waterfall,” my friend said, “And through the gate, then they’ll become huge dragons." She was translating for us. Explaining the myth of the pond was an old Czech lady, the owner of the house slash Japanese garden.

"Do the fish know that?" I asked.

My friend didn’t really understand my question, but she translated it anyway.

“No,” the lady replied, also feeling my question was a bit strange.

“Then how would they know to jump up the waterfall? Why would they ever try it? I think if I were one of those fish, I’d appreciate that knowledge, even if it’s quite impossible to jump up the waterfall. At least there’s something to live for,” I said to myself.

the goldfish pond and the magic gate the left

It was a beautiful place, a weird place. My friend lived out in the village of Olesko, just south of Prague. Olesko is a beautiful village that follows a ridge overlooking the Vltava river. The village is mostly just big summer houses for Praguers, scattered through a thick forest. The summer house is an important thing throughout European culture, a way to get out and get a breath of fresh air, away from the crowded city.