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Failed Rock Gardens Of Japan

Nobody’s going to deny that rock gardens are one of the great art forms of Japan. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy an exquisitely designed miniature landscape of meticulously raked gravel…

…swirling around a few mindfully placed boulders?

Plus, compared to even your most basic Japanese garden, they’re really low-maintenance. I mean, once you plant a rock, it never needs weeding, feeding or pruning. And unlike every green thing I’ve ever owned, they don’t look terrible if you never water them.

The problem is, it’s harder to make rocks look like a garden than one might think. Because for every rock garden that looks like these lovely pictures from Hasedera, there are way too many of…these

Granted, this view is better than what’s under most overpasses, but somehow, I find this line-up of random rocks doesn’t inspire me to contemplate the divine order of the universe
You know this one is here because someone said, “I’m sick of watering those plants by the entrance – they just die anyway. Let’s put a rock garden here instead!” and then a few execs waved their hands in the air, saying, “Hey, I’ve got a big one in my yard I’ve been dying to get rid of….”
This sad display is the freeway iceplant of rock gardens
And this Rock Garden Planter must have been put here in desperation, after everything else died from being in such a depressing place. Even those hardy succulents are trying to escape :/
Now this is just lazy. Landscaping Hall of Shame.
I thought long and hard about including this, because it barely qualifies as “intentional,” and yet there’s a certain “if you put a million monkeys in a million rooms and asked them to design a rock garden…” quality to it. Enjoy.
And what happens when you get tired of having an ugly rock garden right outside your door? THIS

When not heaping critical remarks on rock gardens, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

The #1 hostboy at Club Nova makes a handsome living, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of women who pay him a fortune for the privilege. But the party’s over when Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura is assigned to investigate the death of…read more

 

 

 

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

14 thoughts on “Failed Rock Gardens Of Japan Leave a comment

      • Its not rare to see farm driveway entrances with awful rock installations. They often have access to big rocks and the machinery to move them but no idea how to create a pleasing effect! And when it doesn’t work, they just pile on more rocks 🙂

      • Yeah, I get that! I feel kind of sorry for farmers who have to plant crops in such rocky ground – they’ve gotta do something with the ones they dig up from the fields! Actually, I just spent a week in Ireland, where it was explained to me that some cemeteries were so rocky they had to build the tombs above ground, because it was too hard to dig graves (hence these tombs with doors in them, and when there was a new eternal resident, they shoved aside the previous tenant aside with a six-foot pole and slotted in the most recently deceased. Giving rise to the saying, “I wouldn’t touch him with a six-foot pole” O_O)

    • You’re the sweetest to ask! Don’t have a date yet, but after I send the manuscript to my agent (soon! soon!) she’ll take it around to publishers, and we’ll see. 2019, I’m hoping! (But the wheels of publishing grind exceedingly slow, so… arg.)

    • Thank you, my friend. Which posts grab an audience is always a complete mystery to me. I kind of understand why the ones about host clubs are popular (not much written about them in English) but “How to Walk Across the Rainbow Bridge”? Whaaaat?

  1. There was a small one with the raked gravel in front of a new mansion in our neighborhood right at street level. Pretty, but unfortunately the neighborhood cats thought so too. It disappeared pretty quickly and I bet somebody got a thunk on the head.

    On the other hand, I was once at a temple in Kyoto contemplating a particularly nice rock garden and a single Zen snowflake fell. It was truly one of those Only in Japan moments.

    • Yeah, those temple rock gardens in Kyoto, they DELIVER! Wish I could have been there for that snowflake moment. I’m going to be back in Japan in Jan-Feb and am hoping for a snow day or two, so I can find some white gardens to shoot pictures of. Wish I knew of a rock garden worth its salt in Tokyo, because snow between the raked furrows would be lovely, don’t you think? (Still laughing about the cat litter garden though HA!)

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