Saturday, December 03, 2005


The first time I ever saw one of these was when I was wandering through the gardens of Katsura Rikyu and was about to turn down an inviting path when I noticed, perked in the center of the first walkstone off the path I was on, a small, well-shaped rock tied with black hemp rope. I stood staring at it, wondering what the... why was it there, this rock, it was out of place, irrational, just put there, right where I would place my foot, who ties a rope around a rock and puts it in the way, but it was there. The act is pointless, to bind something to nothing: but there it was.

Then a gate opened in what is I guess the universal part of my mind, the part we too seldom inhabit but that is the general habitat of gardeners and other grand communicators. It was clear that, through this rope-wrapped stone, someone was requesting as gently and respectfully as the garden itself had been created - with the same minimal intrusion, both upon garden and visitor - that you not pass this point, please.

I hadn't known what the rock meant, but it stopped me cold, as it was meant to do. A tacit knowledge I hadn't known I shared. There is so much that understands us.

The stone is called a tome-ishi (stop stone).


Anonymous said...

omoshiroi, big man, omoshiroi. I'll store that one to avoid future faux pas'.

Val said...

Also called a sekimori ishi, I belive. So much more thoughtful than the western barrier right across the path. Another wonderful intuitive symbol from Japan. And another lovely image of life where you are - many thanks.