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Stepping stones, Tobi-ishi (飛石) in Japanese, are an essential element of the traditional Japanese garden. In contrast to regular garden paths, walking on stepping stones requires more concentration. This has a positive influence on the way in which people experience the garden. Additionally, people cannot walk side by side on a path of stepping stones, eliminating potential distractions. In a tea garden, this also makes sure that people do not arrive at the exact same time at the tea house before the start of the tea ceremony.
Stepping stone paths were introduced by tea master Sen no Rikyū, a very famous historical figure. The original idea behind stepping stones was to keep the Zōri, traditional Japanese sandals, clean and dry when walking through the garden.
These old coin shaped milling stones, Ishiusu (石臼) in Japanese, were once used to grind grain or rice. But they can now be used as very authentic stepping stones. Reusing materials in the Japanese garden like this is quite common and perfectly fits the aesthetical concept of Wabi-Sabi.
• Origin: China
• Material: Granite