Japanese Kutsunugi Ishi
Stepping stones are called tobi-ishi in Japanese. Walking on a stepping stone path requires much more attention than walking on a paved surface - the visitor has to pay more attention while walking. This influences the way a visitor experiences the garden. A stepping stone path forces the visitors to move in line, one after the other. This is one reason why tea gardens often have stepping stones.
Tea master Sen no Rikyu is said to have introduced the tobi-ishi path. He did not like that sandals and shoes became dirty when walking on the bare soil. He also recommended that the stepping stones were placed 6cm higher than the gravel or soil. Tea master Furuta Oribe preferred them to be 5cm and Kobori Enshu sensei 3cm above the ground.
A flat-surfaced stone placed at the entrance or adjacent to the veranda facing the garden is called a Kutsunugi ishi. It is a stone where one puts on or takes off ones shoes. The one at the crawl-through entrance of a tearoom is called fumi ishi.
• Origin: Nagoya
• Material: Nan
• Age: Meiji Period
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