There is a quietude here punctuated by guided tours. Questions the tour guide can’t answer. “Can you read the lanterns?” “Do the placement of the chairs at this family altar hold any significance?” “What do the octagon shapes represent? Any symbolism?”

I am shoehorned in the corner. Merged with the tour for the duration of this room, whether I like it or not. My thoughts mirror the gentle curves of the architecture, the subtle lines of the color-penciled flora, the diffused hues of water-colors—Wisteria, Pussywillow, miniature pomegranate.

I learn this: This room is called “Reflection on Clear Water.” The exterior windows in geometric shapes, hold no glass, are called “leak windows”—open to the elements, they are meant to leak the outdoors in. There is a fluidity of indoors and outdoors here—no clear, concise lines. They leak into one another— “ovate to elliptical.” Serrated by questions, I become molding on the wall until the tour moves on.


People make low-impact movements in front of buildings that tip their arches toward the sky. There is a movement in the architecture—languid, it stretches away from hard angles and straight lines.


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