Tokonoma Display Summer 2013

I’ve been told that a good tokonoma display creates an setting through which the viewer can be transported to a specific place in time. The objects being displayed must work together to create a unified theme centered around a specific season.


“Dragonfly & River Mollusk” by Rabani, Accessed 9/21/13,

Two of my favorite elements of summer, water and dragonflies, encapsulate the mix of activity and rest, stillness and movement experienced during the summer.  From the small pond in my parents backyard that was visited each summer by a fiery red dragonfly, to the matchstick thin damselflies that inhabit the stream I take my own son too; the dragonfly symbolizes summer almost as much as its aquatic habitat.

IMG_9640With that said it should be no surprise that I really liked this display. The main object in a very large (6 x 29.5 x 16.75), and may I add heavy, puddle stone (mitsumari-ishi) collected from the Saji river in Japan and donated by Teichii Katayama.


I have seen puddle stones displayed both with and without water. When they contain water they are almost always placed in a suiban with sand rather than in a wooden daiza. Some also like to not only fill the reservoirs with water but wet the entire stone. As the water dries the color of the stone changes and I think this helps bring some life to an other wise inanimate object.


Side view showing several puddles.


What do you see, a mountain lake or a natural bird bath?

IMG_9633Alternate side view

IMG_9628In contrast to the heavy wet stone is a scroll depicting 3 light and airy dragonflies hovering above the water.


The signature on the scroll reads Shoshen. I was unable to find any information about the artist and would welcome it if you know something about him.

Dragonfly & Autumn leaves, Lightsnow photography, ,accessed 9/30/13

Dragonfly & Autumn leaves, Lightsnow photography, accessed 9/30/13

Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to my favorite season and a new Autumn display.

Summer Tokonoma Display

On the last official day of summer I wanted to share some pictures of a formal summer display currently in the Museum’s tokonoma.

This Distant Mountain Stone is one of my favorite suiseki in the collection. It is extremely smooth and flat measuring 4.25 in. high x 25.75 in. long  x 11.25 in. wide. It was collected from the Setagawa River and was donated by Mr. Kenichi Oguchi.

On closer inspection there is a depression on the right resembling a lake at the foot of the mountain.

The bottom of the stone. Whether a stone should be cut or not is something I won’t get into here. =)

I personally have never seen another diaza like this. Since the stone is completely flat on the bottom the diaza only goes around the edge. Has anyone else ever seen something similar?

Close-up of the hand carved daiza.

This scroll depicting a waterfall and Japanese Maple is by Imai Keiju. Born in Mie Prefecture, Imao Keiju (1891-1967) was a Shijo school painter who studied under he father-in-law, Imao Keinen (1845-1924); He was known for his bird and flower motifs making this scroll unique since it deviates from his normal subject matter.

Detail of maple leaves

Signature and chop of Imai Keiju

I am thankful that another summer is coming to an end. Soon the green maples will give way to the reds and oranges of fall marking what I believe to be most beautiful season of all. Stay tuned for more seasonal displays.

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