Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Japanese Dry Stone Walling

Rather more on-topic is this video. The footage is from the Stone Foundation’s January workshop and symposium. 14th and 15th generation Japanese stone masons came to California to demonstrate their traditional method of dry stone castle and wall building, and to supervise the construction of some ramparts at a park in Ventura. Most noteworthy in the technique is that the walls are battered with a subtle arch/concave shape for structural stability and that each of the structures has a ‘mirror stone,’ an especially large stone meant to reflect the strength of the builder or owner. The caption says the video is a documentary in progress, but I like it as is; it’s not fast-paced, but that’s appropriate for a stonework video, and there’s some good footage of rock shaping.

The Stone Foundation has an article about the project with info and photos. The Ventura County Reporter did a writeup with a slideshow, and the Ventura County Star put video footage in theirs. I’ve never been to any of the symposiums, but I know a few people who have, and they speak really highly of them. Looks like it was pretty cool.


4 Responses to “Japanese Dry Stone Walling”

  1. August 22nd, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    lostlandscape (James) says:

    I’m always amazed whenever I see a massive boulder split with hand tools like they showed. It looks like hard work, and I wasn’t so surprised to see blood twice in the video. It’s beautiful work in a beautiful location. I’d love to sit on the ramparts and look out over Anacapa and the other islands.

  2. August 23rd, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    ryan says:

    The blood could easily be avoided by wearing gloves, but stoneworkers like to look hardcore. And also to touch the rock while they’re working it. Made the video more interesting, though my old bosses at the SCA and Forest Service would sure be unhappy about that and the lack of eye protection.
    I’d love to see it in person too.

  3. August 23rd, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Town Mouse says:

    Very cool video! Reminds me a lot of the many stone walls down at Tassajara. You might want to go some time, it’s truly amazing and all done without tractors to lift the stone (they now have a small bobcat). No comment regarding the “no gloves” work. I remember we talked about that when you picked the stones for my patio ;->

  4. August 23rd, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    ryan says:

    Ah, well, I may have been including myself when I said that stoneworkers like to look hardcore. I’m good about the eyewear, though. I never swing a hammer without something protecting my eyes.
    I should check out Tassajara. It’s been on the to do list for a long time.

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