ROJI 露地, a path through the garden.

Perhaps derived from tsubo niwa of kyo-machiya

In the "Metsugo" section of the Namporoku, Rikyu says, "Day and night, with the monastic rules of the Zen temples as my basis... I unfolded the world of the Pure Land in the locus of the roji..."

The "dewy path" or "dewy ground" (translated "open ground; open air" in Sanskrit; Chinese translators used RO 露"dew" to mean "exposed to the dew") found in the third chapter ("Simile and Parable") of the Lotus Sutra, was translated by Rikyu into the transition space between the outside, the floating world of dust, and the Wabi Soan teahut, which was a mandala of the Buddha world. It became the place to escape- fly away from and cast off, stepping stone by stepping stone, the dust and defilement of the outside world.

Although small and limited, each component and especially the effects of light, reflection of Mizumaki, the splashing of water on stones and plant and of shadows, are given special attention. There is no feeling of miniaturization, no distractions like bridges, water, etc.

Ro, as mentioned, also means "exposed" as to the dew; unprotected by anything such as family, wealth, status, etc. Thus we leave all such symbols of wealth, status and social standing as jewelry, swords or their equivalent, outside. Paradoxically, it is the hidden and concealed which give the illusion of, perhaps non-existant, depths.

At first roji were composed of only the chozu 手水, stone hand washing basin with "no plants, no sand, no rocks" to distract Guests, the true "open ground" of the Sutra. Now the roji is planted mostly with broad leaf evergreens (that bear at most, small flowers), ferns and moss, with a few rocks and stone lanterns.


Some Exemplary Stories


Roji Dogu

Prepare Guests number plus one for Teishu (One more needed for Hanto but not seen by Guests) of the following things:

Outside the Seki

Katana-kake 刀掛- simple hanging "shelves" usually just honegumi, frame for sword pairs; dai-sho (swords) originally just propped up but fell over; pegs in wall or in bamboo pole- still damaged; at one time even fans were left out but too extreme now- watches, rings, perfume, cameras act as separators, protectors

Chiriana 塵穴-under eaves; place for last bit of dust; square [0.9.0(27cm) x 1.1(33)] for large room-hiroma, round for small room (4 1/2 mats and smaller) -D. 21-24 cm, deep-27<; in orig. roji less well defined; now kept very close, very clean; green leaves put in to cover anyway

Soto 外 roji- outer dewy path

The stones not too large, not too small and set natural distance apart, for "easy" walking and looking around. Soto roji stones are more like paving- in numbers and straightness. The tops should be easy to walk on with Roji Zori and Geta smooth and fairly flat, with few holes or depressions to catch water. These puddles must be wiped up before the Guests pass over them. The perfect condition is that found just after a light rain has started. The wetter the better is NOT true. Plants sticking over the path must be cut back to prevent ruin of silk.

The inner roji path itself is marked out by flat stones, tobi-ishi (飛石 "flying stones") carefully laid to give the impression of a mountain road but also to force the Guest to slow down and carefully observe the pilgrim's progress and their surroundings. Traditional JPN gardens start to the left or to the west; stones are laid to be easy but not too easy to walk on.

For Rikyu, function was 60% of a roji, looks 40%. As we might expect, with Oribe it was 40/60.

Namporoku (Dennis Hirota translation) 2. Whenever I go to have tea with Rikyu, he unfailingly brings water to fill the stone basin (Chozubachi) and pours it in himself. I asked him once about the meaning behind this. He answered, "In the roji, the Teishu's first act is to bring water; the Guest's first act is to use this water to rinse his hands. Herein lies the great foundation of the roji and thatched hut. ..

5. You must have more than a merely indifferent grasp of watering the roji. The key to hosting a gathering lies in the three layings of the charcoal and the three waterings of the roji..

中門 CHUMON-middle gate

The gate which stands between inner and outer roji, further separating the tea house from the outside. It may be covered, uncovered, simple or elaborate, but wabi chajin prefer the minimum. If it is made of bamboo, it and its fence should be replaced with new, green bamboo at least once, if not twice a year. If it has no roof, the large stone in center of monÅF tosuri ishi. Types include

Rikyu (Nampo?) - shouldn't use an ancient gate from an old mountain temple because it is not appropriate for a wabi, city dwelling. At any seki-iri, it is unlocked by Teishu, relocked by Tsume; after the chaji is over, it is unlocked by Tsume; relocked by Shokyaku.

Uchiroji-inner roji

These should be less "interesting" than outer roji, more spiritual, more pure. There will be more ferns and moss but fewer stones, with nothing purely "decorative." They may be more open or trees may half hide the teahouse.

Lanterns are not considered decorative since they serve both for lighting and as landscape elements, focus points. One is always at Tsukubai; others depending on layout of roji. The oldest known ones are dated from Kamakura era. There are many shapes and konomi; many stolen from Korea and, having no base, were sunk directly into the ground.

Especially in the inner roji, the stones should be smaller, less "convenient" and less contrived in feeling. The ideal is said to be like a stone path through the mountains. Sotan was in such a quandary that he scattered beans to keep from having to decide where to place smaller stones just at Nijiriguchi.

Ses also:


chado: Roji (last edited 2014-08-16 19:01:40 by StigSandbeckMathisen)