The History of Suiseki
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Ten Views of a Rock
The Science of Suiseki
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Using Acid
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The Daiza
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Common Western Classifications | Japanese | Chinese | Korean


Sansui keiseki/Sansui keijo-seki Scenic Landscape Stones ------------------------------------------------------------

  • Yamagata-ishi - Mountain stones. (May resemble a single mountain distant and near-distant or several mountains.)
    • Toyama-ishi/Enzan-seki Distant mountain stones (Mountains as viewed from a great distance.)
    • Kinzan-seki Near-view mountain stones (Mountains viewed up close.)
    • Koho-seki Single-peak stones (Mountains with only one peak.)
    • Koho-seki Double-peak stones (Two mountains, or a single mountain with two peaks.)
    • Sampo-seki Triple-peak stones (Mountains with three individual peaks.)
    • Rempo-seki Mountain range stones (Range of mountains rather than a single mountain with one or more separate peaks.)
    • Seigaku-seki Rugged Mountain stone (Mountain stones with rugged features.)
    • Sekkei-ishi Snow-covered mountain stone (Mountain stones with snow-like minerals at peak(s) or sides.)
  • Taki-ishi Waterfall stones (Resemble mountain with one or more waterfalls. Waterfall suggested by streak of white mineral at top of stone, coming down front.)
    • Itodaki-ishi Thread-waterfall stones (Suggested by a thin line of quartz-like material running down the front of the stone.)
    • Nudodaki-ishi Sheet-waterfall stones (Broader lines of light-colored material coming down the front side of the stone.)
    • Karedaki-ishi Dry waterfall stones (Definite markings that suggest a dried waterfall.)
    • Yamagata-taki-ishi Mountain waterfall stones (Mountain stones with one or more waterfalls appearing on their front surfaces.)
    • Keiryu-seki Mountain-stream stones (Stream running through valley, often white mineral vein where the stream would be. Ideal if stream runs diagonally, vs. from front to back.)
  • Dan-seki/Dan-ishi Plateau stones (Terraced hillside or a series of flat steps rising toward a cliff. Classic stone has at least three steps varying in length, step should be vertical or nearly vertical.)
  • Shimagata-ishi Island stones (Resemble island rising out of water, low in height, suggest coves or inlets, normally displayed in a suiban or doban filled with sand or water to enhance the island image.)
  • Doha-seki/Doha-ishi Slope stones (Suggest the rolling hills of a plain or a slope gently rising toward a hill.)
  • Isogata-ishi Shore stones (Usually shallow and suggest a rocky shoreline.)
    • Araiso/Araiso-ishi Reef stones (Rough stones suggesting a jagged reef or shoal.)
    • Hirasu/Hirasu-ishi Sandbar stones (Smooth stones suggesting a sandbar or quiet beach.)
    • Misaki-ishi Cape stones
  • Mizutamari-ishi Waterpool stones (Depressions that suggest mountain pools or ponds. Porous stones that do not allow the pool portion of the stone to be filled with water are not prized. The most highly prized pool stones are those with the pool encircled by one or more well-formed mountains.)
  • Tamari-ishi Pool or Lake stones (Similar to waterpool stones - depressions suggest deeper pools or lakes.)
  • Mitzutame-ishi Water puddle stones (Similar to waterpool stones, shallow depressions that hold water.)
  • Iwagata-ishi Coastal rock stones (Suggest a high, wind-swept rocky coastline; tall, rough offshore rock; steep cliff at end of a peninsula. White mineral deposits at base is prized, suggesting waves breaking against cliffs.)
  • Dokutsu-ishi Cave stones (Hollows and cavities resemble caves, suggested by deep dark cavity, end cannot be seen. Most admired when cave slants sharply to left or right.)
  • Yadori-ishi Shelter stones (Suggest concave shallow shelter formed by overhanging cliff, floor of shelter should be visible.)
  • Amayadori-ishi Rain-shelter stones (Similar to shelter stones with suggestion of shelter protecting from rain.)
  • Domon-ishi Tunnel stones (Holes suggest pass-through tunnel / natural arch, e tunnel passing completely through stone.)

Keisho-seki Object Stones ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Yagata-ishi House-shaped stones (Various types of rustic houses.)
    • Kuzuya-ishi Thatched-hut stones (Important category, overhanging rounded or triangular roof and an eroded, more valued if stone appears to have pillars holding up roof.)
  • Funagata-ishi Boat-shaped stones (Resemble different types of boats, including wooden sailing ships, rowboats, and houseboats.)
  • Hashi-ishi Bridge-shaped stones (Resemble a stone or wood bridge.)
  • Dobutsu-seki Animal-shaped stones (Any stone resembling an animal.)
  • Torigata-ishi Bird-shaped stones (Real and mythical birds.)
  • Mushigata-ishi Insect-shaped stones (Especially butterflies, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers.)
  • Uogata-ishi Fish-shaped stones (Especially koi and goldfish.)
  • Sugata-ishi/Jimbutsu-seki Human-shaped stones (Especially fishermen, farmers, maidens, Buddha, and Buddhist monks; also stones suggesting parts of the human body.)
  • Sankeishi-seki Three objects stones (These stones suggest three different objects when viewed from different angles.)


Colors can enhance the beauty and classification of stones - by their deep, subdued, and excellent color. Appreciated for aesthetics, color and suggestion made by color ex: dawn, dusk, night, spring, sunsets

  • Kuro-ishi Black stones
  • Maguro-ishi Jet-black stones
  • Aka-ishi Red stones
  • Ao-ishi Blue stones
  • Murasaki-ishi Purple stones
  • Ogon-seki Golden-yellow stones
  • Kinko-seki Yellow-red stones
  • Goshiki-ishi/Goshiki-seki Five-color stones (Traditionally these stones are a mixture of red, yellow, and green together with either gray, blue, purple, white or black.)

Kigata-ishi Plant-pattern stones ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Mori-ishi Forest-pattern stones
  • Bonsai-ishi Bonsai-pattern stones (Resembles a bonsai tree and pot.)
  • Hanagata-ishi Flower-pattern stones Especially prized throughout the world are:
    • Kikumon-seki/Kikka-seki/Kiku-ishi Chrysanthemum-pattern stones (Patterns suggest radial design of chrysanthemum flower, a traditional Oriental symbol of immortality.)
    • Baika-seki Japanese plum-blossom-pattern stones
    • Nobara-ishi Wild rose-pattern stones
  • Migata-ishi Fruit-pattern stones
  • Hagata-ishi Leaf-pattern stones (Suggest different types of tree or flower foliage.)
  • Kusagata-ishi Grass-pattern stones (Suggest different types of grasses, including bamboo and pampas grass.)
Gensho-seki Celestial-pattern stones ---------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Tsukigata-ishi Moon-pattern stones (Iinclusions or embedded minerals which resemble the moon.)
  • Higata-ishi Sun-pattern stones (Markings or embedded minerals suggesting sun - setting, rising, or full.)
  • Hoshigata-ishi Star-pattern stones
Tenko-seki Weather-pattern stones ---------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Amagata-ishi Rain-pattern stones (Inclusions or patterns suggesting driving rain, usually coming down at an angle.)
  • Yukigata-ishi Snow-pattern stones (Resemble patterns of snow falling.)
  • Raiko-seki Lightning-pattern stones (Usually dark with white mineral deposits resembling lightning bolts.)
Chusho-seki Abstract-pattern stones -------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Tori-ishi Tiger-stripe-pattern stones (Alternating strips of color, suggesting the stripes of a tiger.)
  • Tangled-net-pattern stones Itomaki-ishi/Itogaki-ishi (Crisscrossing lines often suggest a tangled fishing net.)
  • Sudachi Pit-mark-pattern stones (Pockmarked with pits resembling needle formations or grinding by small particles.)
  • Jagure Snake-pattern stones (Curving and winding patterns suggesting movements of a snake.)
  • Moniri-ishi Embedded stones (Abstract pleasing patterns, embedded.)


Japan Locations

  • Kamogawa river stones Jet black Distant mountain or Slope stones found in the Kamogawa river in Kyoto prefecture.
  • Kurama stones Brown granite Island, Distant mountain, or Object stones found around the Kamogawa river, Kyoto prefecture. Also gray or brown limestone Tangled-net pattern stones.
  • Kibune stones Dark gray or reddish-purple Mountain, Waterfall, or Mountain-stream stones found around the Kamgawa river.
  • Setagawa river stones Black Mountain, Slope or Tiger-stripe pattern stones from around the Setagawa river in Shiga and Kyoto prefectures.
  • Nachiguro stones Jet-black Mountain or Plateau stones from the mountains of Mie prefecture.
  • Kamuikotan stones Black or blue-green Mountain, Slope, or Plateau stones from the rivers and streams of Hokkaido prefecture.
  • Sado red stones Red Mountain or Island stones from the mountains of Niigata prefecture.
  • Ibigawa river stones Black, bluish-black, or gray Coastal, Island, Waterpool, Shelter, or Waterfall stones from the rivers and streams of Gifu prefecture.
  • Sajigawa river stones Black, bluish-black, or gray Coastal, Island, Waterpool, Shelter, or Waterfall stones from the rivers and streams of Tottori prefecture.
  • Furuya stones Black or gray-black Mountain, Waterfall, Mountain-stream, or Coastal stones from the mountains of Wakayama prefecture.
  • Seigaku stones Black or gray-black Mountain, Waterfall, Mountain-stream, or Coastal stones from the mountains of Shizuoka prefecture.
  • Neodani stones Several stone types including Chrysanthemum-pattern stones of Gifu prefecture.
United States Locations
  • Mojave Desert stones California
  • Murphys stones Murphys California
  • Eel River stones Northern California
Italy Locations
  • Ligurian stones, Ligurian Alps, Italy Hard limestone. Similar geological composition to Furuya-ishi. In Italian such stones are referred to as 'Palombini' because of their blue-gray color similar to a pigeon palombo

Most material here from The Japanese Art of Stone Appreciation by Vincent T. Covello & Yuji Yoshimura

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