The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 2. Garden Stones

Tobi-ishi Flying Stepping Stones

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Another name applied to them is Tobi-ishi, meaning "Flying Stones," on account of the supposed resemblance in their formation to the order taken by a flight of birds. Such terms as "Sea-gull Style" and "Wild-goose Style" are often employed to describe such arrangements. These irregular flat stones are, in certain old books, called Shiki-Shima, or "Scattered Islands," a name also applied in ancient verse to the islands of the Empire of Japan; and this fact is quoted by several writers as a proof of the antiquity of the art of gardening in this country. In the simple rustic gardens attached to Tea Rooms, these "Stepping Stones" constitute one of the principal features, and in all gardens, without exception, they are employed to some extent.