Japanese rock garden: device, philosophy and style features

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The rock garden is an unusual stylistic solution for landscape design. This direction is more often chosen by people inclined to philosophical thoughts and solitude. The article describes the key aspects of choosing elements and creating compositions from stone, and also describes the sequence of arranging a Japanese garden..

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

The philosophy of the Japanese rock garden

The Japanese treat stones in a special way, believing that the place where they are located is sacred. According to the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, a person in the garden should not be occupied with an idle walk, but with concentration, contemplation and reflection..

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

In fact, a rock garden is a small laconic landscape on a flat surface. The main elements of the composition here are not the usual plants, but stones surrounded by sand, gravel or small pebbles. There is a lot of free space around the stones. This “emptiness” symbolizes the vastness of the world, the future and freedom..

Each element of the garden has a hidden symbolism:

  • small pebbles, light gravel and sand – water element;
  • stones of different sizes – islands and mountains;
  • vertical stone (statue) – sky;
  • horizontal (flat, recumbent) stone – earth;
  • moss – abstract idea of ​​vegetation (land covered with forests).

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

In general, the eastern rock garden symbolizes the “frozen” model of the world.

The main principles of garden design

At first glance, it may seem that cobblestones, large boulders and small minerals are located chaotically. In fact, composition is subject to certain laws and rules:

  1. The Japanese garden consists of an odd number of stones, starting from 3 or more.
  2. The composition is based on rough stones of different sizes, which are selected in shape, texture and color.
  3. The stones are harmoniously located over the entire surface area. In this case, from each point of the site, all stones should be visible, except for one. The Japanese believe that only a person who has achieved enlightenment can see all stones..

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

  1. An important principle of creating a “stone” composition is asymmetry. When building a garden, avoid parallel lines and objects of the same size..
  2. The boulders are combined into several separate groups, which together should create a harmonious and complete composition. For example, five cobblestones can be placed as two groups (2 + 3) or three groups (1 + 2 + 2).
  3. The garden must be filled with minerals from one natural area. It is unacceptable to connect mountain, river or sea stones with each other.
  4. The whole composition must be kept in a single color scheme.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

Choosing stones for the oriental garden

Japan is a volcanic island state, therefore, when arranging the eastern rock garden, it is customary to use minerals of volcanic origin: tuff, basalt, chlorite, andesite and granite. Each stone is selected according to its shape, color and hardness.

The shape of the stone plays a primary role in creating a garden composition. There are five main forms of decorative stones:

  • curved;
  • a statue;
  • recumbent;
  • low vertical;
  • flat.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

Especially carefully it is necessary to choose stones for single compositions – in this case, imperfection of shape or unaesthetic chips will be striking. It is better to arrange stones with defects in groups, creating a harmonious element of landscape design.

The color of the stone can have different shades: gray, brown, purple, green or red. The surface of the stones is characterized by an intensity of shine. Some minerals have an even matte tone, while others radiate a glossy sheen. If in the same garden you use stones that differ from each other in brilliance and color, the eyes begin to scatter and the feeling of peace disappears..

The best option is stones washed out by waves, currents or rain. These minerals have a calm, moist sheen..

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

The hardness and structure of the stone determine the durability of the Japanese landscape. Composition of hard minerals looks more fundamental, and the surface of such stones, under the influence of the environment, quickly becomes patina. It seems that the whole landscape is the result of centuries-old changes in nature, and not the painstaking work of man.

Rules for placing stones and creating compositions

All elements of the composition must be stable. The stones should not appear to be overturned or rolled. For this, boulders and cobblestones are buried in the ground. Depending on the shape of the stone, relief and “pattern” of the Japanese garden, the depth of digging is chosen. It is optimal if the stone is two-thirds or half underground, but burying a small part of the mineral is acceptable.

When installing a vertical or inclined element, the stone should not appear to be falling. You can express strength and movement in a stepped arrangement..

Creating a composition requires the performer to maintain a balance in the placement of stones. This can be achieved by adhering to the following rules:

  1. The rock garden must be oriented relative to the point of contemplation and the time of day that is planned to be spent in the garden. If the stay in the garden is more often in the evening or in the morning, then the main object of concentration of the gaze should be located in the eastern or western part of the garden. In order for the midday sun not to blind your eyes, the point of contemplation should be on the north side of the site.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

  1. The compositionally related objects of the eastern garden should form an imaginary triangle. Thanks to this technique, even the most abstract garden evokes a sense of hidden dynamics..
  2. The finished composition should maintain the contrast between filled and open spaces..
  3. To balance the energy, more horizontal rocks should be included in the landscape, and vertical boulders can become the centerpiece of the composition..
  4. The main stone (usually the largest boulder) is located in the background, so it will not distract attention and act overwhelming.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

Garden decorative elements

Stone is not the only element in the composition of a Japanese garden. Not the least role here is played by patterns on gravel or sand, fences, bridges, tsukubai and stone paths.

The patterns on the sand are made with a rake with special attachments. The teeth can be of various shapes and widths. Before proceeding with the creation of a pattern on the site, it must be schematically displayed on the plan of the future composition – the direction of the lines should harmoniously fit into the general landscape view.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

The Japanese “attribute” a special meaning to each image:

  • straight lines symbolize the sea surface, the calmness of the water element;
  • curvilinear patterns – seething streams;
  • the circles around the stones represent the waves that have run onto the shore.

Fences are installed on one or both sides of the garden. They recreate the atmosphere of privacy, so the fence should be made of opaque materials. This can be a concrete fence, a low stone wall, or a bamboo fence.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

Bridges are very symbolic in Japanese culture, they connect different periods of life. Bridges made of a fragment of a rock or solid horizontal cobblestone fit best into a decorative composition.

Tsukubai is a low stone bowl with water, reminiscent of an ordinary barrel 20-30 cm high. Water enters the tsukubai through pipes stretched underground. This element gives the static Japanese garden a light dynamic that does not disturb the atmosphere of concentration..

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

Paved paths are made of irregularly shaped bricks, artificial or natural stone. When laying a Japanese-style treadmill, it is undesirable to form four seams that would converge at one point. The arrangement of stones should not resemble a quadrangle.

The long axis of each of the stones is perpendicular to the direction of the path.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features

For evening and night lighting in the stone garden, compact lanterns made of pumice, wood or stone are installed. Competent placement of lanterns will create an unusual play of rays of light and stones.

Arrangement of a Japanese garden: step by step instructions

The technology for arranging a rock garden is quite simple. For work, you need to prepare elementary garden tools (shovel, rake, bucket), natural stones of different sizes, small pebbles and sand.

Japanese rock garden. Device, philosophy and style features


  1. Clean the area for the future garden of unnecessary items and debris.
  2. Level the surface of the site: level the visible slope with a shovel, fill the grooves with earth.
  3. Remove the top layer of soil from the site to a depth of 10-15 cm.
  4. Lay out small decorative stones or boards around the perimeter of the site – they will serve to strengthen the walls of the “pit”.
  5. Spread sand evenly over the entire area (layer thickness – 5 cm).
  6. Lay a layer of gravel or pebbles on top of the sandy “pillow”.
  7. Water the plot with water at the rate of half a liter of water per square meter – this will compact crushed stone and pebbles.
  8. Setting the central elements of the composition. If the stone is not very bulky, then it can be “pressed” into the rubble. For large boulders, make a deeper cut.
  9. With a rake, “draw” patterns in the form of stripes or circles on the site.

Using the above guidelines, you can recreate a rock garden according to your feelings and taste. It will delight you with an aesthetic appearance, will give a feeling of harmony and tranquility.

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