This photo shows the main ginshanada seen from
front garden compartment and from the street.
In the center the Buddhist triad and in the back the O-karikomi.
On the right a branch of the Abies procera that stands on the Turtle Island in the front garden compartment and that symbolizes a crane, this branch being one of its wings.
|This shows the main garden ginshanada in front of the O-karikomi, as seen from the back side of the house when standing on the Veranda.|
At the entrance of the (front) garden the path with the tobi-ishi, "floating stones", stepping stones layed in gravel, begins. It than bends to the right (in frond of the front-door) and continues into the Ginshanada, that is visible at the right of the entrance-path. The front-door step-stones also lay in gravel.
From the entrance-path, on the left next to the drive (sorry, compromise), we see Hôray, "symbol of the islands of the Blest" here represented as mountainous islands, "houraiseki", "the five Islands of immortality". These islands where thought to float in a remote sea, carried on the backs of giant turtles. This see, or ginshanada, is made of the very same gravel as we used for the entrance pathway and the (main) Ginshanada. The result of this is that when we enter the garden we get the impression that the parts are all connected and that the house is actually surrounded by it, as though the building is located on an island.
Whetter the entrance-path forms part of the Ginshanada can be disputed, it runs along the Turtle-island that definitely is. The experience is such that it connects seamless to and flows into the Ginshanada as being one, and this is what was intended. We will address the entrance-path in the front-garden compartment chapter.
The Ginshanada is regarded a structural garden element and "contains" the following objects as part of the main garden:
As part of the front garden compartment:
It is the gravel surface, the Ginshanada, that we
address in this chapter. The other parts are
discussed briefly here and in detail in the
applicable chapters. If the elaboration is available
this is shown by hyperlinks.
Although sand and in particular white sand is often mentioned, many gardens do not use white sand, but rather employ varieties of gravel colors and coarseness. The requirements for and use of the gravel are determined by "the need of the garden" and its effect on people. There are over a dozen patterns of gravel raking each with a different symbolic "meaning" and some without. Not always does a gravel area represent see or water.
The ginshanada takes substantial part of section: B, C, D, E and A/G. In the sections A and G it forms a visual junction between the left side garden and the front garden, where the entrance to the premises is situated. Thanks to the visually seamless front side (A, B) and main-garden connection it accomplishes an impression as though the house is surrounded by the ginshanada. The main garden gravel area is about 220 m2 or 262 square yard.
In our case the "silver sand" or white sand, is
replaced by gravel, more precise very small pebbles,
not sand and not grit.
The use of coarse, light-and-dark mottled gravel as foreground for whole of the main-garden reduces the unavoidable contrast created between stone and plant formations and the visual ground. Both, the stones and ground covers have a similarly mottled appearance. The contrast between objects and ground would be much greater if fine white or "silver" sand were used instead.
Although we knew what we wanted, we still needed to find it. At the time, the original Shirakawa (a river which flows from Mt. Hiei in the northeast of Kyoto, bringing with it a grey-white, granite sandy gravel) granite gravel or shirakawazuna (sand) (see: shirakawaishi) as e.g. used in Ryoan-ji was not available in the Netherlands as far as we know. Many alternatives are used in an outside Japan.The box shows the samples we found. Eventually we selected the one shown to the right, 2 to 8 mm (0.08" to 0.3"). We only decided on that after we had them compared in the real garden, at least what it was at the time. If you are unsure about the color, size or structure we advice to first try it out. Keep in mind the primary purpose (meditation or to better bring out the foliage on plants etc.), most used viewing positions and angle, dry or wet, time of the day, season and what ever may influence your experience.
The different shade and brightness after a rain shower give a very "living" impression.
A minor disadvantage of the gravel (2-8 mm pebbles) you see here is the fact that after a heavy rain shower the raked patterns will have reduced in size to eventually disappear after a few showers.
Not only form but also the size of the pebbles determines how well patterns can be raked and kept.
Of course an important aspect is the overall color impression one gets from the average viewing distance and angle.
This should be considered in sun shine, in shadow and during the night, as well as dry and after a rain shower. A lot of glare is unpleasant to the eye on a bright sunny day. On the other hand a good white tone is very effective on a moonlit night. With only a minimum of moon light this can give a fairy like and romantic effect.
A statement of caution is in place here. Be sure the surface is flat and settled (tamp) and use a good weed control fabric (barrier cloth) as a ground-cover (in Dutch antie worteldoek = anti-root-cloth) without wrinkles. Depending on your location and soil a simple drain system, just under the barrier cloth may be required (more in The technology behind (or under) the garden). In the Maintenance section The gravel area you can see what happens after a heavy rain shower. Knowing that our soil is almost pure sea-clay it is easy to image what would happen without the drainage.
Where possible keep the gravel area away from trees (or vise versa) that drop too much leaves, twigs, sprouts or other debris, as keeping the gravel clean is not always an easy task.
Some raking pattern examples as used in the ginshanada.
|Part of the raking between the main veranda and the edge of the raihaiseki (also reihaiseki) [1,p224] stone as seen from the veranda.||Just a stone and the only statue we have, a monk sitting in contemplation at sun set.|
Instructions on how to make Sand and gravel rakes are discussed as part of the Tooling section.
This is our homemade so called "Desktop Zen Garden".
Many Internet shops sell this as the ultimate Zen Garden.
Although it may give people the wrong impression we do like it to release our ad-hoc
creativity and develop our sense of (Zen) balance.
What is however more interesting is the sand we have used. This sand looks like a miniature version of our gravel regarding the colour and mix. The grains are very large, for sand that is, something like 1 to 3 millimetres. It is sand that is often used to fill the joints in a brick roads, pathways etc.
Note: The examples will only display correctly after the page has fully loaded !
It is not an exact-science to draw the line between garden-elements
to distinguish between elements such as tsukiyama, ginshanada,
(O-) karikomi, hako-zukuri, stone-settings, islands, borrowed-scenery and so on.
Under each subject, or better subject-area,
we try to show examples with focus on the main subject.
Often an example will be in a context with other elements.
One third of the path that encircles the house
crosses, or actually "floats" (that is what tobi
means) in the ginshanada. The path is composed of
tobi-ishi, floating stones and gravel.
About half or one-third of it is part of the
See The main garden Roji for details.
|Just one example, a part of the Ginshanada tobi-ishi path.|
Our "broken contemplation stone" the
This is really a broken stone. Being a perfectionist I wanted the stone to lay absolutely level. Just before it lay just right, we heard a snapping sound, never to forget, when the stone broke in two pieces. The first reaction was to glue it. Then I realized that this must have been a message from the kami and no longer felt the urge to hide the crack. Even more so, we decided to make it "part of the east tics". And that is what you see here.
Photo taken at sun set, hence the colours.
Make sure that all the stones, right down to the front of the arrangement, are placed with their best sides showing. If a stone has an ugly-looking top you should place it so as to give prominence to its side. Even if this means it has to lean at a considerable angle, no one will notice. There should always be more horizontal than vertical stones. If there are "running away" stones there must be "chasing" stones. If there are "leaning" stones, there must be "supporting" stones.We hand-picked the stone to have the right qualities. Structure, color, size and form are of utmost importance here. We used comparable stone formations as an example.
Do not arrange a Buddhist Trinity so that it faces directly toward the main residence. Have it face slightly to the side. Violating this taboo is terribly unlucky.I am afraid that we have violated guidelines (rules ?) and taboo's. This is however in line with the direction that we have set in Determine the vision and strategy where it was stated that the symbolism and superstitious beliefs mean little to us and that we only take these rules into account if there is a direct impact on the aesthetics of a garden. Hence we decided to take symbolism into account and bring it into the garden if and when it in our eyes, enhances the appearance and appreciation.
However, if a Buddhist Trinity is placed in the southwest, there will be no curse, neither will devils be able to enter.
Sakuteiki page 186.
Note that this is a view visitors will never
see. It is the Triad as seen from behind, at
the left side. So here: man, heaven, earth are
seen from bottom to top.
An alternative triad can be based on a standing "fierce deity" stone and doujiseki, two guardian boy's stones.
The Triad seen from the path that runs through
the Ginshanada, gravel area.
Man, heaven, earth from left to right.
|This is the Buddhist Triad seen from the Tsukiyama. Although an unusuall view it gives a good impression of the balance that is independent of the view point.|