When leaving Vatopediou through the impressive main gate you see the kiosk in front of you with a beautiful hilly backdrop. Right after the gate to the right you will find a new pool.
The large pool nowadays looks like a Japanese sanctuary. There are carefully designed piled-up loose rocks. In the middle you can see a bonsai tree. There are a variety of colourful goi carp. Surely there is a story attached to the design of the pond and especially with the Japanese influence.
This is the situation in 2009, during my first pilgrimage to Athos. It looked quite different then with a greenish basin. Certainly not clear enough for carp.
We meditated a while at the pool. Staring at the graceful moving fish. Suddenly I saw that one of them, a bright orange one, carried a cross on its forehead. We were stunned and nailed to the ground.
It is my second experience with suddenly emerging crosses on the Holy Mountain. The first miracle one was in the freezing winter of 2014-2015 when we were exploring the waterfall behind Dafni.
Gorgeous koi fish! But I didn’t expect this from Vatopediou…While I can understand the connection, it is always a pitty to see a tattoed fish. Both this practice, widely used in China, but the trade also of tattoed fish within European Community is banned…
I am a fan of Japanese gardens and Koi fish, and even though I applaud the good intentions I can’t help but cringe a bit at the finished result. Randomly stacking stones on top of each other is not enough to achieve the Japanese aesthetic, and that bright pool-like bottom doesn’t do the Koi fish any favors as now they are easy targets for seagulls. Perhaps next time I am at Vatopedi I can spend a few hours improving the display!