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Don Pylant, April, 2021

Decorating wood in a Japanese garden

Started by gibson1971, April 26, 2009, 01:06:07 PM

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Hi all,

I have a very strange question to ask!  I have searched on the web and looked in all my Japanese garden books for pictures of path entrances and fencing that have been painted.  Does anyone know if they are painted in gloss, or matt, or if dyes are used instead of the usual household paint?  I have been toying with the idea of adding a touch of red and black to my wooden arch and fence posts, but understand that this is more Chinese than Japanese.  It is my understanding that the Japanese use more black or natural wood.

I know this is an odd question to ask!

Matt (your amateur gardener!!)


You are correct.  Japanese garden entries use natural tones.  The bright colors are more Chinese.  Entries to estates can be more elaborate:  http://www.japanesegardening.org/nijo/images/entrygate.jpg


I think the more traditional approach is scorching the wood, then using a stiff wire brush and water to scrub off the excess char. this gives some weather and insect protection and creates a very interesting look if you can do it evenly.


Matt... btw.. I was hoping for a photo of the wooden arch and posts as there is information available on natural dyes used for various things from weaving to baskets to woodwork...
perhaps you have not had time or opportunity...   thanks

K.T. Cannon-Eger

Help, please.
The link listed in the first answer no longer works. Is there another link to scorched wood and other techniques?



K.T.   ..
one might try this link:

basically a search for 'shou sugi ban' or 'yakisugi'...
there are a few videos, and the photo gallery of course.       edzard


Great link!  Sorry about the removed photo in the first link, K.T..

K.T. Cannon-Eger

Interesting thread and so timely. One dear friend in his early 80s noticed some disrepair to a public torii gate. His immediate suggestion was to power wash the wood, let it dry then paint it red (or vermillion) "just the way they do in Japan."