Classical Chinese Garden
NW 3rd and Everett, Portland, OR, 97208, 503-228-8131

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

The name of the Knowing the Fish Pavilion comes from an ancient Taoist legend. Two friends Zhuang Zi and Hui Zi were walking along the edge of a stream. Zhuang Zi looks at the fish and said "Look at those happy fish!". Hui Zhi said, "How can you know the pleasures of a fish? You are not a fish." Zhuang Zi responded, "How do you know I do not know the pleasures of a fish? You are not me."

As you enter the Knowing the Fish Pavilion, examine the carved lions guarding the entrance and the carved hanging 'lotus baskets' above. The lotus is a traditional sign of purity and perfection.

Within the Knowing the Fish Pavilion, take time to notice the layers of views that you can see looking to the north. You may first notice the Double Rainbows Resting in the Clouds Bridge in the foreground, then the Locking the Moon Pavilion, and finally the Tower of Cosmic Reflections in the background. This layering of views creates the impression of a larger space than the Garden actually encompasses.

The Chinese philosophy of yin and yang are also evident here. In the shade of the pavilion you are experiencing Yin, while Yang is demonstrated by the sunshine against the white walls. The wetness of the water is Yin while the dryness of the land is yang. The softness of the plants is Yin, while the hardness of the rocks is Yang. This balance of yin and yang reflects the balance of nature. Your experience in the Garden is meant to stimulate your senses as well as your intellectual.

Upon leaving the Knowing the Fish Pavilion, walk along the 'square crabapple paving' past the towering bamboo in the corner. The tall slender stone columns against the wall are called "bamboo shoot" stones. They come from caves in China and their exact composition is uncertain.