It’s actually one of our teachers that reminded me of this photo, when she started talking about the turtles in the two ponds in Shitennoji. So, have some swimming turtles for today.
Here is a Wikipedia bit about the cultural depiction of turtles in Japanese tradition.
In Japan, the turtle has developed a more independent tradition than the other three prominent beasts of China. The minogame (蓑亀), which is so old it has a train of seaweed growing on its back, is a symbol of longevity and felicity. A minogame has an important role in the well-known legend of Urashima Tarō.
According to traditional Japanese beliefs, the tortoise is a haven for immortals and the world mountain, and symbolizes longevity, good luck, and support. It is the symbol of Kumpira, the god of seafaring people.
The tortoise is a favored motif by netsuke-carvers and other artisans, and is featured in traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies. There is also a well-known artistic pattern based on the nearly hexagonal shape of a tortoise’s shell. These patterns are usually composed of symmetrical hexagons, sometimes with smaller hexagons within them.