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Yes, Balancing Rocks Is an Art—If You're This Good at It

All it takes Ishihana-Chitoku to make these stacked, temporary sculptures, is two hands and a little focus.
Images courtesy the artist

There's something beautifully surreal about seeing inanimate objects, be they playing cards or matches, precariously stacked on top of one another. Over the years, it's actually been developing into its very own genre of art, "balanced art," inspiring creative minds all over the world to start stacking. Artist Ishihana-Chitoku is but one of these creative minds who’s spent years working to imbue the serene sensation into his balanced rock sculptures. Chitoku’s catalogue is filled with mind boggling assemblages of stacked rocks that you won’t believe were made by human hands.


When choosing his stones, Chitoku takes into consideration their color, shape, and size. In their variety is a limitless amount of stacking combinations wherein Chitoku can explore different patterns and shapes. Chitoku says he’s particularly interested in the different kinds of silhouettes created when the sculptures are looked at as single entities, and how each arrangement decision he makes can drastically alter a sculptures’ contour.

Chitoku first selects the stone he wants to sit at the top of his piece. From there, he builds the image around it—think of it like decorating your christmas tree starting with the star at the top.

One might think this process takes hours and hours of unflinching precision, but in the video below, Chitoku stacks three different rocks on top of one another in under a minute. He tells The Creators Project, the amount of time spent putting these sculptures together varies from stone to stone. For him, the most satisfying part of the process is when, “the stone comes to rest.” He describes a release of tension he feels at that moment, when all of his concentration is rewarded with an acute feeling of “ecstasy.”

When I first came across these sculptures I was immediately curious about whether he found any sort of therapeutic value in the process, psychologically or emotionally. Chitoku says that he doesn't necessarily find the act of rock balancing to be meditative, or super stressful, either. Just focused: “When completed, I will be healed. If not completed, its natural.” He tells The Creators Project.


Since 2012, Chitoku has participated in a long list of balancing art events and festivals. Most of them are hosted in Japan, with exception of the Ottawa BAWI (Balanced Art World International) festival Chitoku returned to in August 2014.

In the future, Chitoku says he hopes to organize his own balanced art festival, a practice he says is becoming more and more popular around Japan. He hopes to starting hosting creative workshops and maybe even eventually start an organization like BAWI to help put together events.

Check out more rock sculptures from Ishihana-Chitoku on Instagram, and keep abreast of new projects on his website.


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