Yakuboku (役木)

Yakuboku are trees which are planted in a Japanese garden to create a certain mood. They are described in works such as "Tsukiyama Teizo-den" (Garden treatise), written in the Edo period. They have developed over a long period of time and through experience and do not have a particular set form. Even now they are used as a reference when creating Japanese gardens.

Examples of yakuboku
Shoshinboku
This is the main tree of the garden, and forms the central part of the view. Tall evergreen trees such as pine trees, holly, and Cleyera Japonica are used.

Yokeiboku
These are used as a contrast to shoshinboku. They are also used to supplement shoshinboku within the vista. Thus, if shoshinboku is a needle leaf tree, then yokeiboku is a broad-leaf tree and if shoshinboku is a broad-leaf tree, yokeiboku is a needle leaf tree.

Sekizenboku
This is often an evergreen tree whose branches and leaves are blue and beautiful, planted in the east part of a south-facing garden.

Sekiyoboku
This is a tree planted in the west part of a south-facing garden, maple often being used.

Mikoshi no matsu
This pine tree forms the background of the garden and emphasises the foreground view.

Torohikae no ki
This is an evergreen tree planted beside or behind an ishi-doro (stone lantern).

Hizawari no ki
This is a tree planted in order for its branches and leaves to cover the face of the ishi-doro, and is usually a deciduous tree such as maple.

Kakidome no ki
This is a tree planted beside a sode-gaki fence (a low fence to either side of a gate), Japanese plum being preferred. When Japanese plum is planted, it is called 'sodegaka' (fragrance at the side).

Iorizoe no ki
In a tea garden, this is a tree planted near the eaves of the chashitsu (tea room), koshikake-machiai (sitting room) or azumaya (literally, four eaves) and so on, setting the mood. It is a tree planted around the outside of the building, used to create harmony.

Hashimoto no ki
This is planted at the foot of a bridge for the enjoyment of seeing the branches and leaves reflected in the water. Trees such as weeping willows or maples which have willowy branches are said to be most appropriate.

Hachiuke no ki
This is a tree planted near the tsukubai (a stone wash basin found in Japanese gardens) or verandah-side water basin. It is planted in order for its branches and leaves to cover the mouth of the water basin. It is also called 'hachigakomi no ki' (tree surrounding the water basin).

Idoashirai no ki
This is a tree planted beside a well or izutsu (the wooden frame around a well). Pine trees, Japanese plums and willows are used.

Hisenzawari no ki
This is a tree planted in front of a waterfall, hiding the top of it. It emphasizes the view of the mountain behind.

Monkaburi no matsu
Although it does not appear in the books of the Edo period this tree has been treated as one of the yakuboku since ancient times. It is planted at one side of the main gate, in order for one of the branches to extend over the gate. Japanese red pine and Japanese black pine are used, but Podocarpaceae such as yew plum pine or Japanese yew may also be used instead.