The initial use of laying down a path of stones was carried out by Sen no Rikyu (千利休), the apparent founder of the tea ceremony, while watching one of the shogun’s wooden clogs get ruined by the mud present on the way to the ceremonial room. He then realized that such stones enhanced the beauty of the environment and thus became widely used.
The reason why rough stones where used instead of a neat flat path was to prevent attenders from walking in groups or on a fast pace. In this way, walking one by one in a row, watching their steps, each and every one of them is forced to take the time to indulge in the beauty of the garden quietly and prepare themselves for the tea ceremony.
At Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa, even though we do offer a concrete flat walkway running by the garden, we still keep the rough stones path to reminisce and share one more little aspect of the many traditional aspects that Kyoto, and Japan itself, have to offer.