sabi = elegant simplicity; the patina of wear and weathering
sakiyama = escarpment
sakui = the central theme or motif; a creative impulse
samon = ripples and other patterns formed in shikisuna using a special rake
sa-niwa = precursor to the garden; the purified space in which prayers are made and messages received from kami
sansui = literally “mountain and rivers”; landscape; one of the most important concepts underlying garden art and painting
sanzon-ishi-gumi = a triangular arrangement of three stones representing the Buddhist Three Jewels
sao-ishi = a lantern's stone stem inserted directly into the ground
sawa-watari ishi = a type of stepping stone for crossing water
sekitei = a stone garden
sentei = garden; literally “to prune”; term used in provinces
shahei-gaki = a screening fence
shakkei = literally “borrowed landscape; a word imported from China, it was probably applied to the technique in the Meiji (1868-1912)and Taisho (1912-1926) eras when Japanese gardening techniques were being systematized; ikedori is the far older term
shibumi = a term used from the Edo era to describe quiet or somber things
shiki = the four seasons
shiki-e = paintings that symbolize the four seasons
shiki-ishi = paving stones
shikiri-gake = boundary fences
shikisuna = beds of coarse sand or gravel; often raked into samon patterns
shima = island(s)
shime-nawa = the ropes (twisted bundles of rice straw) delineating a sacred area or sanctifying a holy object within a Shinto shrine
shinchi = literally “pond of the gods”
shinden-zukuri = aristocratic architectural style dating from the Heian era
shin-gyo-so = formal, semi-formal, informal; a concept originally applied to calligraphy, later to other arts including tea ceremony and garden design
shinrin = a sacred forest
shinsento = an unearthly mountain island in a mythical sea
shinzan = deep mountains
shiorido = fences constructed from a bamboo frame around which strips of bamboo are stretched, forming a rhombus shape
shira-kawa-suna = white sand used in karesansui gardens
shishi-odoshi = literally “deer chaser”; a bamboo contraption originally used to keep animals away from cultivated areas, but now used to provide acoustic and visual interest in gardens; a length of bamboo is positioned like a lever on a fulcrum below a water source; as it fills with water it swings and strikes a stone
shoin-zukuri = architectural style of the Kamakura (1185-1392) and Muromachi (1393-1568) eras characterized by low writing desk and the raised surface upon which it rests
shokusai = plantings
Shumisen = the immovable mountain at the center of Buddhist cosmology; represented in gardens by an upright stone; one of the earliest known features in the gardens of Japan
shuronawa = black-dyed rope used in bamboo fence construction
sôan = literally “grass hut”; rustic tea arbour
sode-gaki = literally “sleeve fence”; a small fence extending out from a building limiting the first floor view of a garden
sono = an early term for garden; implies an agricultural origin
sôsaku-mono = literally “designed object”; items such as lanterns specifically made for placement in a garden
soto-mon = outer gate of a tea garden
soto-roji = the outer garden; usually wider and airier than the uchiroji
sudare = a reed or bamboo screen
suhama = slightly curved spit of sandy beach
suihen = freshwater shore
suikinkutsu = an underground echo chamber constructed beneath a chozubachi or tsukubai to amplify and reflect the sound of water back to the person washing their hands at the basin
sukashi-gaki = open, latticed fence
sukiya = architectual style of the Momoyama era (1569-1603) characterized by rustic simplicity and extreme elegance; drew on motifs and materials from vernacular architecture but largely based on the tea house
suna = sand
susaki = sandbar or pebble-strewn spit

Go to Japanese Words About Gardens T-Z?