Japanese Gardens -Stones And Rocks Part One

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Thanks for visiting my Japanese garden blog I really hope that you find the information here very helpful, inspiring and interesting!

I have recently set up a Japanese garden design and landscaping information site called : www.makingajapanesegarden.com and you can access a FREE ‘Making A Japanese Garden’ video by visiting that website. If you are interested in making and designing your own Japanese or Zen garden you will find it a real treat. Todays post is part one of a two part post on Rocks and Stones….

The use of stones and rocks in a Japanese gardens or Zen gardens is an essential element in their design. Apart from trees and plants nothing features so much in a Japanese garden that stones and rocks and even that is a close call. The rules governing their usage are ancient and plentiful, so what I plan to do in this article is give you an overview of the types of rocks and stones used together with some basic rules of design.

Japanese gardens are an art form that date back over 2,000 years, they originated in their most common form in China. As time went by and Japan imported more and more cultural ideas from China, gardens were very much at the forefront of ‘must have’s’ for the aristocracy. Priests and monks were allied to rich landowners and were encouraged to design and create gardens of spectacular proportions and intricacy. The history of garden design and those associated skills passed down over hundreds and hundreds of years took on religious overtones in a lot of cases as the influence of Zen Buddhism became common in Japan.

It was quite normal for priests who scoured riverbanks for stones and rocks of certain shapes and sizes to be revered and promoted in a physical and spiritual sense to top Japanese garden designers. It would be worth looking at some photographs of Japanese and Zen gardens to see the truly spectacular use of stones and rocks in a very precise way.

Japanese gardens are all about precision and serenity and it’s a common factor in the main 5 types of Japanese gardens. To achieve these objectives there are some essential facts to understand.

Stones and rocks are symbolic representations of real or mythical land forms. The first stone grouping to be introduced into Japanese gardens was the ‘Shumisen’ – a collection of stones, where the Buddha lives in the main central stone and his disciples are the smaller stones around the Buddha.

Chinese legend and in particular the Isles of Eternal youth made an impact in Japanese gardens in the Heian era approximately 781 to 1185 AD. These taller stones made up the group of islands which represent the unattainable dwelling place of the Immortals. One larger stone is surrounded by 3 smaller ones. This is a typical example of a Chinese influence in the use of Japanese garden rocks and stones.

Tomorrow I will post on the % mains types of Stones that are used in Japanese garden and how you use them in context of their meaning.

Have a great day.


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