Paths or "roji"
are integral to any garden, they determine and often
prescribe and direct the route the visitor will take. Their
form and pattern can influence the visitor's perception of
the garden. The speed and cadence of movement through a
garden is very much determined by the design of the path.
Furthermore, placement of the path within the garden is
important in determining how a garden will be revealed to
the visitor. The design of the path and surface materials
used can also highly influence the garden experience.
The paths using stepping stones and step stones were late 16th century innovations, introduced to Japanese garden design intended for the practice of the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu).
A tea garden is called "Roji" in Japanese. However, depending on the characters used it can also mean: "passageway", "path", "dewy path", "path ground" or "hut ground" and possibly even more. This actually emphasizes an interesting concept. That is that the path is not as such a collection of stones but a pattern composition of stones in a space that is shaped into the garden. Hence we use the name Roji for the Tsubo-en Ginshanada pathway.
In Tsubo-en, and in most gardens, we can differentiate two classes of paths based on the usage purpose. These are the paths that we want visitors to walk and paths for other use, mostly utility. In Tsubo-en there is one primary path that offers a circumambulation of the house. This path has different styles depending on the location. The path at the entrance of the garden also uses the same type of tobi-ishi and really is the start of this path as the Ginshanada extends to here.
House and garden work together to give "interesting views" and exploit the concept of "tachidomaru". This word is a combination of "stand" and "stop" and means "to pause, stop and look back".
Miegakure, "hide and reveal", refers to a number of techniques used to configure garden scenes in sequence as visitors walk through the garden. The term was first used in regard to roji. The concept of "mie gakure", also "hidden and seen", is a central design principle in Japanese stroll gardens with curving paths. Stepping stones are arranged so that new, unexpected views and objects are discovered at each turn and that the visitors view is directed into specific directions to, almost force the eyes to see objects and elements from a specific angle and position.
We will further discuss the paths in the applicable garden-sections. In the section below we will elaborate on some of the techniques.
The use of natural material, but with clearly visible
traces of human intervention was introduced around 1600.
The word "stepping stones" tobi-ishi,
shows up, perhaps for the first time, with
Rikyû3 in 1587. The use of cement is
extensively discussed by Oribe
4.a. Not long after that dressed and cut
granite was combined with natural stone, flat rocks in
fancy pathways or in long rectangular forms, combined with
Stepping stones appear in various shapes. Some unworked, others are worked in order to create unexpected and unusual forms like rectangles and circles. Like in Tsubo-en this can get a thematic use and break the monotony of the aesthetic experience. For example, there are usually two rectangular stones that are parallel to each other (Tanzaku) which appears in the middle of a path.
One third of the path that encircles the house crosses, or actually "floats" in (that is what tobi means) the ginshanada. The path is made up of tobi-ishi, floating stones. The stone used is hewn granite, flat but rough on the walking surface. All stones have one straight side. These where acquired from a stonecutter.
The interplay of right angles and natural curved forms is thematic in Tsubo-en.
This path is used to manipulate the visitor's experience of the garden, Miegakure. It can not be walked without looking at the stepping stones and thus enforces the visitor to view to the ground and then up in predefined directions. In this way the pace is slowed down and physical and visual consciousness are increased. This should however remain unnoted as such.
The way to do this is the technique called sute ishi, literally "thrown away stones". These are low inconspicuous stones that appear as if scattered in a random manner. This technique is used to make a composition look more natural and to hide any of the secret (enforcement) intentions. Stepping stones are placed in varying intervals. Although they create irregular paths in various patterns, the placement of the stones is calculated and precise.
The sute ishi path is also refered to as mamemaki-ishi, "scattered beans" method. The translation of which suggests that stones are placed to look as if they had been thrown down at random. Stones are however placed very carefully with respect to their relative shape, color and size. The tobi-ishi alternate with the carefully designed composite path with geometrical forms of finished flagstones, broken or full-size.
The composite cut-granite path positioned in the middle of the roji (section C) is very much inspired by the so called "Oribe's style" 4 shown below, which also promotes reuse of stone elements 10. This method of stone paving is also known as nobedan, mostly when used in a Roji.
At the time (1997) natural stone was hard to get. We purchased these, and most other natural stones, from a local stonecutter. To him most of this was waste and therefore acquired for an interesting price.
|The raking is a creative act. The patterns get changed frequently. Photo taken at sun set, hence the colours.||The composite cut-granite (Oribe) path in the middle of the Roji (section C).|
In front of the veranda we have a number of heavy
step-stones. Here a number of
Yaku-ishi, special purpose "step" stones
have got a place.
To emphasize the roles and gestures of those attending the tea ceremony, in their approach to the tea house, these steps are formally defined by the (tea garden) tradition and tea etiquette. The use of these steps is very much dictated. These stones can be very big and high because a veranda can sometimes be very high.
Photo taken just after a rain shower.
Here, when approaching the veranda from the walking
direction we placed a large black step at the left,
the Rikudatsi ishi or "sandal stone". It is
used to leave ones sandals behind prior to setting
foot on the veranda. For this we found a beautiful
stone, a jewel in its own right. A almost black
flat stone, slightly polished with marvelous
pattern. One should never walk on it with shoes
still on. The latter is a traditional statement but
even more true for this gem.
Photo taken just after a rain shower.
The biggest stone, here positioned in line with the pathway and the right one of the three as seen from the walking direction, is the "guest stone" (fumi-ishi), used to step onto the veranda. This heavy "guest stone" is, in line with the agnostic tendency described in medieval treatises 4, reused and originates from a church, (garan-ishi) .
This is a late sixteenth century development and refers to the spirit of freely experimenting with details in the garden composition and the reuse of stone artefacts, e.g. originating from temples or graveyards . This stone originates from the entry steps of a church and may be hundreds of years of age.
Formally we should also have a step dedicated to any visiting Samurai. The one we have used is a symbolic one and is positioned on the far left side.
It became our honoured "broken stone" or "broken contemplation stone".
Our "broken contemplation stone" the
Photo taken at sun set, hence the colours.
|Here the Raihaiseki in contexts as seen when standing on the Rikudatsi -ishi.|
When you find something like the rope tied stone below on
your path do not just step over it, like most Europeans or
actually Westerners do. This is a subtle sign not to follow
this path but take the alternative route.
The stone is treated with respect, as each natural object houses its own kami, hence the handsome wrapping.