Japanese Stone Gardens: Origins, Meaning, Form

Japanese Stone Gardens: Origins, Meaning, Form

Stephen Mansfield

Language: English

Pages: 161

ISBN: 2:00272666

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Japanese Stone Gardens provides a comprehensive introduction to the powerful mystique and dynamism of the Japanese stone garden—from their earliest use as props in animistic rituals, to their appropriation by Zen monks and priests to create settings conducive to contemplation and finally to their contemporary uses and meaning. With insightful text and abundant imagery, this book reveals the hidden order of stone gardens and in the process heightens the enthusiast's appreciation of them.

The Japanese stone garden is an art form recognized around the globe. These gardens provide tranquil settings where visitors can shed the burdens and stresses of modern existence, satisfy an age-old yearning for solitude and repose, and experience the restorative power of art and nature. For this reason the value of the Japanese stone garden today is arguably even greater than when many of them were created.

Fifteen gardens are featured in this book, some well known, such as the famous temple gardens of Kyoto, others less so, among them gardens spread through the south of Honshu Island and the southern islands of Shikoku and Kyushu and in faraway Okinawa.














to snare these forces and, with the aid of south- and west-facing stones, to deflect them, thereby protecting the garden and house. Reciprocity exists within these symbiotic groupings of rocks and ornaments. The relationship between the chozubachii, a water laver sometimes placed at the side or corner of the garden or in the background arrangement, creates a triangular form. More subtle still are the intersections of horizontal, vertical and diagonal forms representing heaven, earth and man,

garden builders by either restricting the number of visitors, requiring them to make a written application to visit or, as in the case of Entsu-ji in Kyoto, prohibiting the use of cameras and videos. Some prominent gardens have, inevitably, been vulgarized by the commercial ethic, suffering as a result. Vending machines and kiosks dispensing snacks and souvenirs inexplicably occupy sections of garden buildings, even temples; at MODERN JAPANESE STONE GARDENS OPPOSITE One of three triad stone

stone gardens, Tofuku-ji depends for its design effect on a strict enclosure of space. BELOW This arrangement, representing the Big Dipper constellation, is composed of foundation stones taken from a former outhouse. LEFT One of four rock settings in the southern section of the main Abbot's Hall garden, depicting the Islands of the Immortals. ABOVE Tight concentrations of tile, stone and gravel are common in karesansui. 115 116 Matsuo Taisha Shrine The gardens at Matsuo Taisha Shrine, Kyoto,

of Chinese gardens, with their islands of celestial rock, were much admired and emulated, suiseki or miniature stone gardens had a profound impact on the later designs of stone gardens. The term suiseki literally means “water stone“ (sui, water; seki, stone). Originating some 2,000 years ago in China, interesting, rare or well-formed stones were placed and displayed in watered trays. Imitations of classic landscape painting, they were also associated in the Chinese mind with the legendary

Zuiho-ji represents the world of Chinese mythology. The large rocks at the back ascend to the central rock symbolizing Mount Horai, home of the Immortals. 31 32 GARDENS OF THE HIGHER SELF LEFT Banryutei, the dry landscape garden attached to Kongobun-ji Temple on Mount Koya, comprises 140 granite rocks, making it the largest stone garden in Japan. Garden assembly, once the province of these rock-setting priests, gradually passed into the hands of sensui kawaramono, the riverbank underclass

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