Friday, May 13, 2011

What is tomeishi-stone?

Can you take a look at this picture? Do you find a small stone with black rope banded in front of the bamboo gate? Do you know what this is and why it is there?

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ I found the stone at the corner of the court garden of Shogetsu. The stone is called tomeishi. You can find it at Japanese traditional gardens or tea gardens. Tome means stop and ishi means stone. Stop-stone? Now, can you guess what it is for?

This stone means “do not go any farther than here”. You can call it “keep-out stone”, maybe. For example, if there is a two-way trail in a tea garden, the stone is placed on one way and lead the guests to the other way for the correct trail. Don’t you think this keep-out sign is very modest? It could be ignored. You can easily move it or step over it. Some people may think that you should place a larger sign which says “Keep Out”, a robust barrier made out bamboo or even a yellow “Keep Out” tape in crime scenes. But, can you imagine a yellow “Keep Out” tape in Japanese gardens? Probably not. This implicit sign suits a Japanese garden. I think it’s very Japanese and I like it that way. Jah!

This is a picture of the court garden of Shogetsu from another angle. There is no tomeishi in this photo.


  1. That is a Tome ishi stone (stop stone). Sometimes called a Sekimori ishi (boundary-guard stone). The "rope" used is normally warabinawa (made from ferns) or shuronawa (made from palm hemp). The basic replacement for a Do Not Enter sign in Japanese Culture. Common use is for Privacy when engaging in a Tea Ceremony.

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