|KEY WORD : architecture / tea houses|
| Lit. dewy ground. Commonly known as
a tea garden *chaniwa
茶庭, this is a because the special arrangement of stones, plants, and other objects
through which guests pass on their way to the house *chashitsu
茶室. Originally roji was written 路次 or 路地 indicating a "path through
which one passes" on the way to the chashitsu, and it was usually
an empty space - neither planned nor conceived as a garden. According to the CHOUANDOUKI
長闇堂記, a collection to anecdotes about tea ceremony *chanoyu
茶の湯, published in 1640, Ishiguro Doutei 石黒道堤, a disciple of Murata Jukou 村田珠光
(1422-1502), took the first step to filling the space between the gate and chashitsu by placing stepping stones *fumi-ishi
踏石 over the bare earth. In the Momoyama period, roji sometimes included
stepping stones set in gravel to avoid mud rather than as objects of aesthetic
appreciation. According to the *NANBOUROKU
南方録, Sen Rikyuu 千利休 (1522-91) first recognized the roji as possessing positive
value, and it is from that time the characters 露地 and 露次 were used. Supposedly
these characters were used in a sutra that describes the place where souls are
reborn, and thus the roji symbolized the pure ground in which one is spiritually
reborn as he passes from the mundane world to the solitude of the rustic tearoom,
souan chashitsu 草庵茶室 (see *souan 草庵).
Reportedly, Rikyuu stressed the purity of the roji, filling it with a clump
of small bamboo, a path, and a bamboo wicket *sarudo
猿戸 so that it appears as if a hermit lives in a hut in an old thicket.
The simple and quiet ideal of Rikyuu's wabi style tea wabicha
わび茶 (see *wabi わび) was best expressed in a
roji that included unpolished stepping stones, a stone lantern and a low
water basin set *tsukubai
蹲踞. Leaves should be scattered on the ground like leaves in a forest so
the earth is not shown. Moreover, the roji should be watered just before
the entrance of guests so as to preserve a fresh and clean appearance.
In Rikyuu's time the roji was generally conceived as a single space, even if employing a some kind of middle gate *chuumon 中門. This single tea garden ichijuu roji 一重露地 gradually developed into the divided or double tea garden nijuu roji 二重露地 consisting of the outer tea garden sotoroji 外露地 and inner tea garden *uchiroji 内露地. Furuta Oribe 古田織部 (1544-1615) is generally credited with developing the more complex and scenic type of roji. In the typical roji of the Edo period, stepping stones and, in some cases, paved paths *nobedan 延段 lead from the *yoritsuki 寄付 (waiting shelter) all the way to the entrance of the chashitsu. Lanterns *tourou 灯籠 are placed throughout the roji (Rikyuu used only one to provide light for tea gatherings, chakai 茶会 held at night, although later roji often employ two or three),as well as a tsukubai, a middle gate of some kind, and trump stones *yaku-ishi 役石 set at key positions. At the symbolic level, the roji suggests the scenery of steep mountains and deep valleys, so natural plants, primarily evergreens, are also planted. Bright flowers are avoided. The tree planted near the path is called the sleeve-brushing tree, sodezuri-no-ki 袖摺の木 and a sleeve-brushing pine sodezuri-no-matsu 袖摺の松 is favored.
The roji may also be called roji-niwa 露地庭, or sukiya-niwa 数寄屋庭.
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