Japanese Stone Garden Designs

Japanese Stone Garden Designs

Here Stickley discusses the influence of Asian and Japanese stone garden designs on the craftsman style.

¶ The fact that we have found the best examples of this natural use of boulders and cobbles in California seems to be due largely to the influence of Japanese architecture over the new building art that is developing so rapidly in the West. In these buildings the use of stone in this form is as inevitable in its fitness as the grouping of rocks in a Japanese garden, for on the one hand the construction of the house itself is usually of a character that permits such a use of stone without danger of incongruity, and on the other hand the stone is usually employed in a way that brings the entire building into the closest relationship with its environment.

¶ The cobblestones used for the houses of this kind are of varying sizes. To give the best effect they should be neither too small nor too large. Stones ranging from two and one half inches in diameter for the minimum size to six or seven inches in diameter for the maximum size are found to be most generally suitable. Such stones, which belong of course to the limestone variety, and are irregularly rounded, can usually be obtained with out trouble in almost any locality where there are any stones at all, picked up from rocky pasture land or a dry creek bottom. The tendency of builders is to select the whitest stones and the most nearly round that are obtainable.

¶ This, however, applies only to the regular cobblestone construction as we know it in the East. In California the designers are much more daring, for they are fond of using large mossy boulders in connection with both brick and cobbles. The effect of this is singularly interesting both in color and form, for the warm purplish brown of the brick contrasts delightfully with the varying tones of the boulders covered with moss and lichen, and the soft natural grays and browns of the more or less primitive wood construction that is almost invariably used in connection with cobbles gives the general effect of a structure that has almost grown up out of the ground, so perfectly does it sink into the landscape around it.

¶ The same effect is heing sought more and more in the East by certain daring and progressive architects who, without regard to style and precedent, are building houses suited to the climate, the soil and the needs of life in this country. An excellent example of this is shown in the picture on the next page, where hard burned brick and natural wood are most effectively combined with big rugged boulders and the large round slabs of stone that serve as steps. These stones, by their very conformation, proc1aim themselves as belonging to New England, and the manner in which they are used is as definitely eastern as the construction of the California houses is western.

¶ The western method is admirably illustrated in the three different views given of the California house that so strongly reflects the influence of Japanese architecture. Here, instead of sharp edged granite, we have big comfortable looking boulders with all the edges and corners worn off during the ages when they have rolled about in the mountain torrents, and the way they are wedged helter skelter among the irregular, roughly laid bricks of the walls, pillars and chimneys is as far from the conventional use of stone as is a Japanese garden from our own trim walks and flower beds. Such a combination as in shown in these pictures almost demands the suggestion of Japanese architecture in the house itself, and yet the whole thing belongs entirely to California.

¶ The harmony of this house with its surroundings will he understood when we say that it is situated on high ground overlooking the wild gorge of the Arroyo Seco and that the trees close to it are gnarled, hoary oaks, towering eucalyptus, widespreading cotton woods, tall, slim poplars and sycamores.

Japanese House with Cobbles
Japanese House with Stone Cobbles
A California house modeled after the Japanese style. With high retaining wall in which the use of cobblestones has proven especially decorative.

Japanese Cobblestone Home
Japanese Cobblestone Home
A house in southern California that shows strong traces of Japanese influence, as evident in the use of cobblestones and boulders in combination with brick, as in the structure itself.

Cobbles and Boulders
Cobbles and Boulders House
An excellent example of the right use of cobbles and boulders. Another view of the same house, showing the way in which the graceful line of the chimney rises from the wall of brick and stone, and also the manner in which the stone is carried part way up the chimney so that it shows irregularly here and there.

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