Charm of the Stone Garden

A stone garden is a Japanese garden made entirely of stones, without plants or water. In short, it is a garden made of stones.
However, simply bringing in stones does not constitute a stone garden. A stone garden must be an expression of a coherent structure.

Each stone is a material. The late Mr. Keiji Uehara, the founder of landscape gardening education in Japan, said that a composition must be created by combining stones, and that a “living expression of stone” that transcends the material stone must be seen when the stone garden is appreciated.
Let us now take a look at the charm and way of being of a stone garden.
Reference: Keiji Uehara, How to Create a Stone Garden, Kajima Shoten, 1996.

The stone is alive

The charm of a stone garden is, after all, that the stones are alive. This may sound impossible, but it is whether or not you feel that they are alive, not that they are living creatures.

The fact that fine artists have long had their hearts set on stones is also evidence that they have understood the appeal of stones.

The haiku “Shizukasa ya iwa ni shimiiru semi no koe” (Silence and the sound of cicadas permeating the rocks) is a famous haiku by the haiku master Matsuo Basho. It means that he realized with his mind’s eye that the sound of cicadas permeated the stone when he first observed the sensation of the stone and recognized the blood flowing through it.

Thus, the stone is alive. No matter how small a stone may be, it is alive. That is why it attracts people’s hearts, Dr. Uehara says.

How a stone garden should be

Let me explain the five articles left by Dr. Uehara as to how a stone garden should be.

  1. a stone garden should be sunk, not placed.
    This means that stones can be placed in the most stable form by sinking them into the earth rather than just placing them. In this way, the sunken stone will look larger and more splendid. The stone should be handled with this in mind.
  2. stones have momentum.
    Each stone has its own momentum. Thus, it is necessary to handle stones with an emphasis on their momentum.
  3. do not mix many different types of stones
    If there are various colors and textures of stones in a stone garden, the sense of unity will be lost and the garden will become noisy and noisy. It is important to match stone textures to create a sense of unity.
  4. show only stones.
    In a Japanese garden, stones are the framework, plants are the clothing, and undergrowth is the accessory. Therefore, it is important to create a garden with the beauty of the framework as the first priority.
  5. Avoid using concrete or mortar around stones.
    The key to landscaping technique is to combine the stones so that they can hold their own without using unnecessary materials.   You will notice that attractive Japanese gardens and stone gardens are built in accordance with these five principles. Conversely, if you appreciate a garden while considering whether or not it adheres to these five articles, you will probably change the way you look at the garden.


A stone garden is a garden made of stone itself, so it is a test of skill in the landscaping industry, as it must be able to express beauty without deception. It is the process of creating a stone garden that brings out the best of the stone’s charm and breathes life into it. If you understand the charm of the stone garden, you will be able to appreciate the charm of the Japanese garden and refine your artistic sense.