3 Third Principle: Sakuteiki and the Stone Placement

  Tamura (1964, pp304-305) pinpoints a possible influence on Sakuteiki of Chinese landscape painting created in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126), where, as to the similar ideas to Sakuteiki, a renowned great book titled Rin Sen Kou Ti 林泉高致 (Lin Ch’uan Kao Chih in Chinese) written by Kaku Ki 郭熙(Kuo His or Guo Xi in Chineseis referred to. The following sentences in subsection 17 in the Sakuteiki illustrate one such a connection:

    “It has been said that when making a garden, deep spiritual concentration is required. Earth is lord, water servant. If earth permits it, water flow, but if earth prevents it, it will not. Seen another way, mountain is lord and water the servant, while stones are the lord’s counselors. Water thus flows in accordance with the nature of the mountain. However, if the mountain is weak, it will be destroyed by water without fail, like a servant opposing a lord. The mountain is weak where there are no stones to lend it support, just as the lord is weak when he lacks supporters. Therefore, the mountain is complete when it contains stones, even as the lord rules by the support of his servants. This is why stones are imperative when making a garden.”(Takei and Keane, pp178-179)

   Before explaining the stone placement in Komatsu Tenmangu, two things in this cited sentences need explanation. Firstly, the attribution of lord to mountain and of servant to water are a kind of metaphor , while they clearly fit to the mutual destruction order of the Five Elements theory saying Earth Element prevents water.

Secondly, the word “deep spiritual concentration” is related to the belief that landscape features influence the fortune of men. For, Kaku Ki relates topography of the earth to the anatomy of men as follows,

     “Mountain let watercourses to be its arteries, grass and trees its hair, and mist and haze its complexion……Stones are the bones of heaven and earth ….Water is the blood of heaven and earth” (translated from Tamura p305).

Feuchtwang (1974) , citing similar sentences as those cited by Tamura, introduces a passage from 林泉高致, expressing Kaku Ki’s belief that landscape painting later known in Japan as Sansuiga (山水画) must be aware of the link between painted landscape and the fortunes of men, as follows:

       “Painting has also its law of physiognomy. (The painter) Li Ch’eng’s progeny was prosperous and abundant; he made the foot of the mountains and the face of the earth very thick and strong, broad and large, graceful at the top and luxuriant below, which is in agreement with the characteristics of having progeny.”(ibid., pp146-147)

Since Komatsu Tenmangu was constructed on the site in front of the water source of Komatsu Castle it may be justified to suspect that some structure with an animating concept of strong mountain was needed. The structure in agreement with this requirement is the Jyugojyu No Sekitou 十五重の石塔(Fifteen-storied Stone Towerwith the height of 7.241m, which has existed since the establishment of the shrine and which was made of a precious stone called Tubono Ishi 坪野石. The stone was produced at Tubono-machi, a part of Kanazawa-shi, and famous at being very hard.

Remembering that the stone tower is situated in the easterly direction of the main shrine building, Shaden, one more proof, among others, that the stone tower was intentionally built is supplied by one of taboos regarding the stone placements. Subsection 16 in the Sakuteiki warns as follows:

“Do not set a white stone that is bigger than those around it in the easterly direction or harm will come to the master of the house. Likewise, in all other direction, be careful not to set stones that are of “controlling “ colors nor ones that are larger than the other stones there. Doing so is considered unlucky.”(Takei and Keane, p191)

According to the Five Elements theory, the white color is associated with the direction west with the Metal Element, where the east is with the Wood Element. Since the mutual destruction order of the five elements specifies that Metal symbolizing the contracting energy impedes Wood symbolizing the growing energy. The color of Tubono Ishi is black and black color is attributed to the direction north with the Water Element, where Water () and Wood() are related in the beneficial way in terms of the mutual production order of five elements.

Fifteen-storied Stone Tower,
cultural property designated by
municipal government of Komatsu