japanese garden


Water and Water basins in Japanese gardens

The water together with the stones from the ancient times was defined by the Japanese. Water sources were considered as habitat for aquatic deities, and they were fenced by a rope. Temples were often located near these places. Paradoxical as it may seem, the first ponds were rectangular (Asuka Period). However, in the Nara period, when China's influence increased, the shape of ponds became more sophisticated; they were joined by streams and supplemented by the islands. However, in the Nara period, when China's influence has increased, the shape of ponds has become more sophisticated, they were joined by streams and supplemented by islands.

The pond, Koraku-en Park, JapanThe pond, Koraku-en Park, JapanThe pond Japan (Rikugien)

The history of the art of creating ponds went on developing in the Heian period, when the main source of entertainment for the nobility began to be boat sailings. The first rules for pond creating appeared in those times. For example, the water should flow from the east to the west, the shape of the pond should have specific forms (often it was a form of an hieroglyph, which meant something positive). The islands were also endowed with philosophical meaning. Thus, the island Horai symbolizes the pure land, an ideal world, the island of immortality and eternal happiness. To reach this island is not an easy task for the common people, so there are no bridges and walkways. Cranes and turtles are ancient Japanese symbols of longevity and immortality, and as such, find incorporation within garden designs from the earliest times in the form of rocks and islands. The turtle embodies the idea of knowledge and wisdom. Usually these islands are flat. The crane symbolizes the purification of the soul, and his island should be high. Besides, the Immortals, who populated the Mystic Isles, traveled from island to island on the backs of giant cranes, so they came to be closely associated with good fortune and happiness. Also, Turtle and Crane are the symbol of the unity of the two principles, male and female, as the yin-yang. If Turtle seeks to comprehend the depth of the universe, the Crane, by contrast, strive upwards, representing a spiritual perfection.

Ponds and water bodies can be a nice decoration of a Japanese garden of your own. Still water would create the sense of calm and serenity. The current streamlet, or at least a trickle of water, by contrast, would create the impression of movement and dynamics. If you plan a large pond, you can breed koi carp, which are very popular in Japan.

Stream in the Japanese GardenThe pondThe pond, Japan (Ginkakuji)

A stream, Japan (Adachi Museum)A mountain stream, JapanA stream, Japan (Murin-an)

Thus, it is impossible to imagine a Japanese garden without water. However, this does not mean that it is necessary to create a large pond, a stream, or a waterfall. Japanese gardens are often created in small spaces. In such cases it would be appropriate to make either a small water basin, tsukubai or a shishi-odoshi.

TsukubaiTsukubai literally means Уa place where one has to bend downФ. It is always sunk lower than the level of the garden and, as its name suggests, requires the guests to squat down to reach it Ц an important act of humility. Tsukubai consists of a stone bowl (or it can be a stone with a groove for water), bamboo chute, from where the water flows, tank and bamboo scoop. Tsukubai belongs to the tea gardens. The water in it is intended for ritual ablutions before the tea ceremony. Each guest must bend over the bowl (usually the height of the bowl is small), scoop the water and rinse his hands. Then again draw water and wash the mouth and face. Before the guest passes the scoop to another member of the tea ceremony, he should tilt the scoop in a special way and drain the rest of the water.

The shape of tsukubai could be round, square or even irregular if the bowl is a raw stone. According to Chinese symbolism, the circle represents the sky, and the square means the earth.

The largest stone in the tsukubai group is called chozubachi, Уhand water basinФ. Usually itТs very simple, natural rocks with a hollowed center. To the right and left of the chozubachi lie two flat stones. During tea ceremonies, a bucket of hot water is placed on one and a lantern on the other. The guest himself stands on a third stone, placed directly before the chozubachi.

Near the bowl you can put a Japanese Oribe lantern.

TsukubaiTsukubaiTsukubai in Japanese garden

Tsukubai, JapanTsukubai, JapanTsukubai, Japan

From the above, tsukubai is better used in the small gardens, preferably near the gazebo or veranda of home, where you can arrange a tea party or tea ceremony.

Shishi-odoshi, JapanAnother interesting water device we can find in Japanese gardens is shishi-odoshi. Surely you remember it well by the movie "Kill Bill" (the fight scene in a Japanese garden). In this device the water climbs up the bamboo chute, pours out of it and flows into the other chute. Under the weight of the liquid the second bamboo tube goes down and strikes the stone with a thud. Water is poured out, and the empty bamboo chute rises again. Shishi-odoshi not only fills the garden with interesting sounds as a gurgling trickle, the sound of bamboo chute, but it is also pleasure to watch flowing water, which has a calming effect.


Shishi-odoshi, JapanAt first this device was intended to scare away deer, wild boars and other animals who could cause damage to agriculture. But later, shishi-odoshi began to appear not only in farms but also in the gardens of the temples. It may have another meaning such as scaring away evil spirits. So, if you create a part of the garden in Japanese style, you can decorate it in such an element. But do not place it where you already have tsukubai, rock garden, or graveled space. It is best to install the shishi-odoshi in a quiet corner, surrounded by shrubs and perennials.

I would like to mention another water basin. You've probably heard about the onsen, the so-called Japanese baths. As a rule, onsens are situated not far from hot springs with the healing water. Of course, it is difficult and expensive to create such a pool in Russia. But if you want a small pool, it is quite possible to stylize it as a Japanese onsen. Here's how we did it:

Onsen, stylizationOnsen, stylization

The photo shows that the small pool is surrounded by a wooden decking. There is a composition of rocks and plants around onsen.

But 70% of the onsens are made entirely of stones, that could also be done in your Japanese garden.

Onsen, JapanOnsen, JapanOnsen in the winter, Japan


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