Garden Stones (庭石)

The use of garden stones is a unique aspect of Japanese gardens.

Garden stones are selected from genuine rocks as materials of a garden, and they are laid out in the key positions of a garden. This is called ishigumi (rock arrangement) if they are combined together for layout. The use of garden stones is a very fundamental technique which is always used in a Japanese garden. In Europe and the United States, genuine stones are rarely used as is without processing. In Japan, it is said that the look of a garden is determined by the quality and layout of garden stones. In fact, various techniques have been developed in Japan.

Prerequisites of garden stones

The prerequisites of an artistic stone are as follows.

It is Natural.

The surface of a stone looks as if it has been weathered in nature over many years.

The look of a stone has many aspects.

It has a characteristic look as a whole. It has joints and layers on its unshaped surface.

Categories of garden stones in use

Garden stones

Well Worthy of admiration as a piece. It is able to make a point in the appearance of a garden.

Kumiishi (combined stones)

Kumiishi is usually composed of two or more stone of large and small sizes. kumiishi is used as tate ishi (garden stone that is set in an upright position), fuse ishi (flat-bottomed stone), hira ishi (flat construction stones used to build the main sections of stone walls, excluding corners, often used in castle walls), or kamae ishi. It is basic to use stones of similar colors.

Tobi ishi (stepping stones)

Tobi ishi are stones with a flat top that are laid along a garden path toward the direction of forward movement. Naming of stones varies according to size; the smallest size for one foot, the intermediate size for both feet, the largest size for several people. There are several ways to align stones; niren uchi (zig-zag alignment), sanren uchi (L-alignment), Kari uchi.

kutsunugi ishi (a flat-topped stone used for taking off one's shoes before entering the entrance or a veranda (a narrow wooden passageway along the edge of a house facing the garden))

It is a stone connecting tobiishi and the entrance of a building. It is common to use a stone larger than 90 by 40cm and 30cm in height.

For stacked stones

It is used for bank or slope to prevent outflow of water or sand.

Production area

Yama ishi (stones from mountains)

It is a rough cornered stone which is used after digging from the ground; some may be seen over the ground, while others are buried deep in the ground. Mountain-specific rusts often adhere to Yama ishi, and some Yama ishi partly contain the roots of plants. A Yama ishi that was buried in the ground is processed so that it would look like a genuine stone, adding some irregularities and flaws.

Kawa ishi (stones from a river)

It is a round artistic stone that is considered to be the most suitable stone in the garden. The River act established in 1971 prohibited picking of resources such as gravel from a river. Nowadays, no extraction is domestically approved unless special permission is obtained (it was prohibited in 1971). Today, organizations such as stone material company or garden stone companies tend to obtain the land for processing stones.

Umi ishi (stones from the Sea)

It is a stone with various looks caused by wave effects. Shells often adhere to it.

Stone/Stone type that is often used

Granite type

Mikageishi (granite)

Mikageishi (granite)

Ikoma stone

Oshima granite

Mikageishi (granite)

Anzangan rock (andesite) type

Komatsu stone

Izu stone

Nebukawa stone

Teppei stone

Crystalline schist type

Iyo blue stone

Chichibu blue stone

Awa blue stone

Kishu blue stone

Tuff (volcanic tuff) type

Oya stone

Basalt type

Roppou ishi

Kuroboku ishi

[Original Japanese]