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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Japanese Garden Stones

藤戸石

Stones are the most important feature of a Japanese garden. If the ground is the "flesh" of a Japanese garden, then the stones are its "bones".

Japanese Garden Stones.


Garden stones fall into three main categories: "named" stones, unimportant "unnamed" stones, and stones which already existed on the site.

The most famous named stone in Japan is called Fujito after the beach in Okayama Prefecture where it was discovered. Fujito was owned by both the warlords Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, two of the most important figures in Japanese history. Wrapped in silk brocade, Fujito was moved from garden to garden to the accompaniment of music. Nowadays, it can be found in the garden of Sampo-in, a sub-temple of the Daigo-ji Temple complex in south east Kyoto.

Do-it-yourself landscape gardening is a dangerous undertaking for an inexperienced person in Japan, as there are many taboos associated with stones. Bad fortune can come from setting upright a rock that was found lying horizontally, or from setting horizontally a stone that was found standing vertically. Setting a stone upside down releases the evil spirit in the stone resulting in a whole heap of problems.

There are five colors of stone, one for each element: red for fire, black for water, blue/green for wood, white for metal, and yellow for earth. The most extreme repercussion for messing up in this category results from making the mistake of planting a tree with red blossoms next to a red stone set in the south of a garden of a person born in a year associated with fire. This is called a combination of four fires and the result will be that the unfortunate person's house will burn down.

To learn more about Japanese gardens, purchase a copy of Japanese Garden Design (by Marc P. Keane, a former Kyoto-based American gardener), or the The Art of Zen Gardens: A Guide to their Creation and Enjoyment (by A. K. Davidson; this excellent how-to book is perfect if you want to create your own Japanese garden).

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