An Introduction to Suiseki

What is Suiseki?

The word “suiseki” refers to a single stone that has in its shape or surface pattern the ability to suggest something far greater than the stone in and of itself. It is a tradition that has evolved to its modern form over many centuries since its earliest traceable origins in Japan, which date back to the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333). This form of indoor stone appreciation, originally brought to Japan from China, eventually began to take on a uniquely Japanese character and moved away from the often vertically oriented and abstract forms of Chinese stones, toward more horizontally oriented and suggestive forms that resemble features of a natural landscape. The most common of these shapes is the toyama-ishi, or “distant mountain stone,” which has a shape reminiscent of single, or perhaps multiple, mountain peaks as viewed in nature from afar. Other landscape features such as crashing waterfalls, vast plains, or remote islands are also often encountered in suiseki, but the art is not limited only to these scenic forms. A dilapidated thatched hut on a mountain path or an abandoned boat by the waterside – things that may be encountered in nature that resonate with the Japanese wabi aesthetic – are other common examples of the many shapes that suiseki may take, which also include animals and human figures, among others. Stones with surface patterns suggestive of flowers or other natural phenomena are also popular, and an appreciation of all of these varied types of suiseki will help enthusiasts develop a better understanding not only of Japanese attitudes toward stones, but also of a great many other Japanese cultural traditions.

Yume no ukihashi

Yume no ukihashi (“Bridge of Floating Dreams”)
w.28 x d.5 x h.4 cm
Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya

An Introduction to Suiseki
By Matsuura Arishige (©2010)

This English publication introducing suiseki to foreign audiences is a book that I have long wanted to produce, and it is a great pleasure for me to finally be able to offer it to the world. The text covers all of the basics essential for newcomers to suiseki, and also includes a number of finer points that will help more experienced practitioners refine and build upon their knowledge. It includes sections on the history of suiseki, the five key factors to keep in mind when assessing stones, a discussion of classification, comments on cutting, storage, display, and more. This book will surely make an important addition to the library of anyone interested in Japanese stone appreciation.

An Introduction to Suiseki An Introduction to Suiseki

Softbound with slipcase
Full color with over 100 illustrations
88 pages of full English text
Limited to 1,000 copies

To order, please send a request to Payment of 10,000 Japanese yen (which includes shipping fees) can be made by direct bank transfer or by International Postal Money Order. Regardless of payment method, please note that all bank or postal handling fees must be paid for by the purchaser in order to ensure that the full amount of 10,000 yen is received. Shipping of orders will be delayed if payment is not received in full. Please inquire at your bank or post office for details when making arrangements. In the case of an International Postal Money Order, please send to:

Matsuura Arishige
1-4-3 Nakamurakita
Nerima ku
Tokyo 176-0023

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