If there’s one thing Japanese gardeners agree on, it is the admonition, “Never buy stones in the rain.” Even lumpen rocks that normally resemble gray concrete mounds, radiate a dark, lustrous energy and depth when soaked by the summer downpours.
Water has always been used to enhance the Japanese garden experience. A tradition still upheld in some quarters by those faithful to garden aesthetics, is to sprinkle stepping stones with water before a guest arrives. The large kutsu-nugi ishi (shoe-removing stone) at the entrances to some traditional private residences, will receive a similar treatment. Look at almost any small Japanese garden calendar, especially those featuring tsuboniwa (small courtyard gardens), and you will see that the photographers have made sure the ground cover is suitably damp and glistening, the stones freshly sprinkled.
Like the blossoming of cherry trees, the rainy season, known as tsuyu (literally the “plum rains”), does not occur simultaneously throughout the long chain of islands that constitute the Japanese archipelago.
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