November 30, 2007

My "tsukubai" Project

I wanted to build a water feature on the corner near the door to our patio. I deliberated on a lot of ideas: a small koi pond, a stillwater pond, a small fountain. I couldn't decide. Then I found a book about "Theme Gardens" and one theme that attracted me was the Japanese "tsukubai" or water basin.

The "official" tsukubai is composed of four rocks, a water vessel, water that flows through a bamboo fixture, and stones or pebbles to unify the whole setup.

The four flat-topped rocks are: a stepping stone, a kneeling stone, a setting-down rock on the right for a pitcher or teakettle, and a slightly higher rock on the left to set down a lantern or candle.

The water basin can be a hollowed out rock or a stone jar or basin. The pebbles between the rocks and the basin are symbolic of a sea in the middle of the rocks. And they serve to absorb the water spills.

The tsukubai is traditionally a water basin built outside a tearoom. Guests wash their hands there before the tea ceremony. It's also found outside temples for the symbolic cleansing of the spirit.

A Japanese-style water basin garden feature would be pretty easy to do, but I still had to figure out the logistics... the rocks and the jar, which were the main elements, would be expensive and difficult to work with.

All of a sudden, from out of the blue, everything came together. With the help of and a clearance sale of fiberglass stone jars at a neighborhood Super Target store, I was finally able to build my tsukubai.

The article about the step-by-step process is now published in
How to Make a Japanese-Style Water Feature.

Tsukubai Project