We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Office of Gardens and Ponds

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780857057600

Price: £16.99

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

A mesmerising fable with a difference, set in Japan over 1000 years ago

For readers of Alessandro Baricco’s Silk, Patrick Süskind’s Perfume and Takashi Hiraide’s The Guest Cat.

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.


A delicate spread of impressions, combining adventure and the supernatural
Marie Rogatien, Le Figaro Magazine
A-ma-zing! A novel that sweeps you away. Big-hearted, empathetic - absolutely brilliant
Olivia de Lamberterie, Télématin
A total success, the result of no fewer than twelve years' work
Jean-Claude Perrier, Livres Hebdo
A string of enchantments, transforming mud into gold
Pierre Vavasseur, Le Parisien
An unusual storyteller who has extensively researched the period he skilfully brings to life, Didier Decoin dazzles with his sense of atmosphere ... The Office of Gardens and Ponds is constantly surprising and captivating. It is a world full of women, ghosts, carp, juvenile emperors and rice packers, but what emerges is a sensual and enthralling mystery
Alexandre Fillon, JDD
You must read Decoin
Bruno Corty, Figaro littéraire
Frédéric Potet, Le Monde
A great love story
Nathalie Crom, Télérama
Marie-Françoise Leclère, Le Point
Marianne Payot, L'Express
Thomas Tissaud, L'Obs
Fresh, funny, erotic
Thierry Gandillot, Les Echos
A fable of great charm and originality
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
Fantastical and oddly beguiling
Antonia Senior, Times