Ishigumi 石組 ✿ The Japanese garden
Isshidan garden is located in front of the Hōjō of Ryōgen-in. It is inspired by the chambers of Master Tōkei (1454-1518), House of the Single Branch on Vulture Peak. It is a Zen Buddhist karesansui (dry landscape) garden that expresses the stone of Mt Penglai. This refers to the Daoist belief in an auspicious island that contains the elixir of immortality. Photo: Gary Warner
Each Japanese garden reflects the concept of an owner or a gardener over time. They express concepts of Shintoism, Daoism and Buddhism by incorporating elements of nature such as water, rocks, trees, plants and mountains.
Japanese have great skill in making everything in a compact size, like transforming a natural landscape into a garden, a big tree into a Bonsai tree, etc.
Sachiko Tamashige speaks about the skills of a good Japanese gardener:
One of the gardeners who I interviewed told me that the most important thing in creating a garden was to choose the main rocks and their position, which defines the beauty of the entire structure. The structure of the Japanese gardens involves a water pond, artificial mountain, then rocks, trees and plants. Skilful gardeners can put all these elements in the right position.
Mitate is the process of metaphor, such as when a big rock resembles a sacred mountain. The arrangement of rocks is called ishigumi 石組). Stones can be arranged to symbolise religious significance such as Horaisan mountain and Tsuru-shima (the island of the crane, which is a place to pray for long life) and Kame-shima (the island of the tortoise, also a place to pray for a long life).
Please enjoy these stories from our garden about objects of Japanese culture:
Bren Luke ✿ Life at a distance - Our August laurel is awarded to Bren Luke for his poignant animated illustration of a streetscape in Japan, which invokes the concept of ma, negative space, to reflect the era of social distancing. The box: A magic object of objects - Beginning with the Japanese animation Spirited Away, Bic Tieu traces her fascination for the magic of the box in Japanese craft and discovers how it connects humans and nature. Netsuke today - The traditional Japanese wood carving craft of netsuke continues to evolve. Toshizō Hirose ✿ The sentō stamp today - What's the life of a stamp maker in Japan today? We ask Toshizō Hirose, who was commissioned to make a sentō stamp for an exhibition about Japanese bathhouses in Sydney. Following the Lacquer God - Dave van Gompel writes about the extraordinary commitment required to master lacquer, and why it has a new-found relevance today. Seikatsu Kogei: Standard-issue craft - Related to our 生きている工芸 Ikiteiru kōgei (Living craft) issue, this exhibition at the Japan Foundation emphasises the beauty of ordinary handmade objects. Mino-momoyama ware - Gallery VOICE introduces some of the unique Japanese ceramic ware that is the fruit of the legendary Momoyama kiln in Toki City Gifu prefecture. Harry T. Morris ✿ The spirit of fuzei in furniture - Artist in Residence at The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre, Harry T. Morris, is inspired by the Japanese concept of fuzei to use discarded materials in producing furniture of lasting value. We learn the experiences in Japan that inspired this appreciation of fuzei. Kyoko Hashimoto ✿ the Musubi necklace - Kyoko Hashimoto's Musubi necklace is a striking example of how a Japanese craft technique can help us appreciate the local quality of another country, in this case the sandstone that defines the Sydney basin. Mikio Toki ✿ Edo kites keep hope afloat - Our pursuit of beautiful and thoughtful objects can take us far beyond the gallery. From kite-maker Mikio Toki, we learn that art taken to the skies can be a powerful way of giving thanks. Why a Japanese lacquer master sought a surfing legend - Lacquer is a gift of the ancients that is largely forgotten today. Sachiko Matsuyama is convinced of its value not just for its redolent surface but also as a bond between people and nature. She finds an inspiring future for lacquer in the work of Takuya Tsutsumi, in partnership with an Australian surfboard maker. Garland in Vietnam - Join us as we explore the One Village One Product movement in Vietnam.
Go back to the Garden.