December 6, 2006


Robert Genn, author of the newsletter, The Painter’s Keys recently wrote about Obos, a Japanese term for a pile of rocks, often only three, one on top of another. He writes, “The obos merely says, "I was here." Being an unusual configuration, it is obviously from the hand of man. Further, if it is knocked down or desecrated, it is easily rebuilt. There can be one at the bottom of the garden or in a private corner of a public park."

"Obos is a destination, a sanctuary, a shrine and a focal point that reminds us that we work with our hands. We are builders and what we build is sacred. Obos may appear inconsequential and be unnoticed by a casual passersby. It's a private tribute to something higher, something we might be striving for but find difficult to attain. Approach obos with a relaxed, curious mind. It can help with answers to questions not consciously asked. Obos gives pause, a contemplative thought or a new direction, a respite from clutter, a rededication to our struggle and an affirmation of the value of our personal effort. Obos is the carrier of a golden secret. Obos is like art itself. "

Photo by Joanna McKasy


isaiah said...

I love Obos... once while hiking on Laurel Creek in NC our group came upon literally 50-75 obos of all different sizes, and all of them in one general location, balanced on the large boulders bordering the sides of the whitewater. I'm pretty sure I've got several pics of the obos on my blog from late 04.

It was a breathtaking moment in which we all said "Wow", and then said nothing for a few brief seconds out of sheer wonder.

We couldn't help but rest amongst them for a long spell, even added some of our own.

Very, very interesting post, M. Thank you Sooo much for taking time to post this.

If one has never created an Obos of their own design, they don't know what they're missing!

Anonymous said...

I saw piles of stones, of varying sizes, on the Scottish hills, often a viewpoint of outstanding natural beauty, sometimes in a difficult place to get to. The smaller the pile the fewer people have passed that way. It is a way of saying 'hello' and sharing a moment with other travellers by 'standing in their shoes while inviting others to stand in ours.' A bit like leaving comments on blogs we pass by.

Jon said...

Hey, Tommy, as soon as I saw this post, I thought of your pics!

anonymous julie said...

I like this. Thank you :)

bradford said...

I live by a path were they are often observed, I can go there alone and not be loney, thanks to Obos & U

Anonymous said...

We saw some beautiful Obos in New Zealand when we were travelling there. I spent one very long road trip explaining to my husband that they were fairy houses built by fairies to hide from goblins and another day telling him about how the wind gathers up the rocks and piles them high like that as some kind of sign from the universe. I refused to believe that it was just people so he took great pleasure in emailing me this!! lol

Steve Rouch. said...

There are over 200 in one place on a headland in Paphos.