VSANA Library of Stone Appreciation Books

Book reviews in the VSANA Library of Stone Appreciation are intended to give readers an indication of the wide range of books available, primarily on Asian stone appreciation, but also on Western stones. Additional reviews are added to this site each month. They are presented in the country where they are produced. Unfortunately, some of the books are out of print and difficult to obtain.

The VSANA Library currently consists of three parts—the Featured Book Review of the Month, the VSANA Library, and Buy Books.

• Feature Book Review features monthly one of the more important books published in field of stone


• VSANA library contains over 150 reviews in ten languages. The reviews are intended to give readers

     an indication of the wide range of books available on stone appreciation published globally.

Buy Books is a new feature to guide our readers who may wish to purchase a book from reliable sources.

Featured Book Review

Ishi, Kiuemon. 1966.

The Essence of Rocks.

Ishii Meiseki-ten, Tokyo. 141 pages.

In slip cover. No ISBN number. 3,000 Yen when published.

This book stands out for several reasons beginning with its size, 35.6 x 25.5 cm, the use of the word “rock” instead of Suiseki in its title, and that it is in English and Japanese. It was written by a long-time stone connoisseur who began collecting stones in the late 1920s. In the introduction Ishi writes “In these noisy and hectic days, to sit in front of a quiet stone, and to listen to its tales about the distant past…..such peaceful hours are becoming more and more dear to us.”  He further states “this “rock boom” has created not just a small amount of confusion, causing concern to old time connoisseurs, and perplexity to newcomers.” Ishi hopes that his book will contribute to the aesthetics of rock collecting and contemplation.

This bilingual volume allows readers to better understand the author’s knowledge and sensitivities about rocks. The scope of this volume includes not just Suiseki but also many other stones (Meiseki) defined by special shape, color, texture, etc., and considered to be of high value. Ishi provides his definition of Suiseki and what to look for in shapes, forms, surface colors, and patterns of rocks. He distinguishes between Suiseki, garden stones, and bonseki. While he states that stones should be just as nature made them, he does allow for modifying the base to make it flat, and for light polishing to bring the true luster of a stone to its surface.

The large format allows correspondingly large color photographs of stones to be printed throughout the book. These combined with Ishi’s comments provide a rare glimpse of Japan’s Suiseki world during the early boom years seen through the eyes and pen of a serious stone collector.

Rating: Very Good, an important piece of the development of modern Suiseki history in English.

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