Japanese culture places special significance on water fountains. There are two main types of Japanese fountains: Tsukubai fountain, Shishi-Odoshi Fountain. Both of these fountains have rich cultural history.
Tsukubai is a Japanese term which translates as “To squat or crouch” in English. Tsukubai fountain is a Japanese fountain usually found outside the Buddhist temples and Japanese tea gardens. Visitors are needed to “squat or crouch” i.e. to bend down, and go through the cleansing ritual before entering the temple. This cleansing ritual is conceptually similar to the ablutions ritual performed in Christian churches. This Tsukubai cleansing ritual involves hand washing and mouth rinsing. This cleansing ritual is performed prior to entering the Buddhist temples for tea ceremonies.
A Tsukubai fountain is usually made out of stone basin, known as chozubachi. The most prominent element of Tsukubai is a bamboo pipe also known as kakei. A small bamboo scoop is placed on top of the basin, ready to use for performing the cleansing ritual. Tsukubai fountains are usually found outside the Japanese tea gardens or in Japanese themed homes.
A stone lantern, also known as ishidoro, is placed near the tsukubai to provide light during the evening tea ceremonies. Arrangement of stones around the Tsukubai is critically important when it is designed. Green floras and bamboo plants make a great compliment to the area surrounding Tsukubai.
Simplistic in design, a tsukubai is beautiful addition to your garden or tea-house to increase it’s Zen-appeal and add cultural history to intrigue your guests and visitors.
Shishi Odoshi is another Japanese fountain that is very well known for its peculiar style and antique beauty. Shishi Odoshi literally translates into Deer-Scarer. Japanese farmers used the shishi-odoshi fountain to scare away the deer’s and pests that were destroying their agriculture.
As the Japanese culture progressed, Shishi-Odoshi was used more as a meditative element. It’s ability to create calm serenity in its surrounding is really appealing to the Zen Monks. Shishi-Odoshi is famous for the rocking motion of bamboo and its “clacking” sound. The bamboo rocks back and forth with water being filled and emptied from the spout. When the bamboo spout gently hits the surface of basin, it makes a “clacking” sound that is soft and refreshing. People performing meditation are especially fond of this soft clacking sound to focus and concentrate.
A shishi odoshi has become a classic garden water feature in recent years because of its cultural history and unmatched beauty.