Japanese Water Fountain: Tsukubai as a Simplicity and Complexity at the Same Time

japanese water fountain

The creation of Japanese-style gardens is now at a high level and is experiencing a new period of prosperity. Designers create delightful compositions that combine aesthetically and religiously. The ability to comply with all the centuries-old canons has been passed down from generation to generation.

Japanese Style in the Garden

The popularity of this style in the landscape is due to its exoticism and uniqueness. The Japanese style attracts attention with its strict lines and the absence of unnecessary elements and at the same time the significance of each Japanese water feature because in all the surrounding space there is a meaning.

The Japanese water fountain is in every sense a unique phenomenon and has an impressive history of development full of philosophical content, symbolic signs, and tribute to ancient traditions. Here everything breathes with the wisdom of millennia, as if there is no urban frenzy in the world - only the nature and naturalness of its creations.

Tsukubai Japanese Water Fountain

the fountain in japan

Traditionally, tsukubai was part of the tea garden, but gradually it began to be established in other types of gardens, mainly for aesthetic reasons. The edge of the japan water fountain is usually located at or above ground level by 20-30 cm, but there are also "anatsukubai", which are installed at the bottom of a large pit lined with stones, and "nakatsukubai", which are placed on the ground, towering 50-60 see, that is, at the level of the hips of a squatting person. The Japanese garden water fountains are the stone bowl to which water flows from a bamboo tube - kakeya. It looks like an ordinary bathroom sink, next to which lies a bamboo mug - tsukubai-bisyaku, designed for greater comfort of the procedure. Simply? Outwardly - yes. But in reality, tsukubai is a vessel filled not only with water but also with deep meaning.

Cleanliness at the Level of Philosophy

Water in Eastern teaching means purity, washing, you do not just wash the dirt from the face, but go through the sacred rite of purification by the elements. Sounds amazing!


Initially, tsukubai was built by monks, placing stones under the streams of a natural waterfall. Over time, the water carved a stone bed and formed a hole - a natural bowl. Such stones, created by nature itself, were valued the most. Later, the idea came in handy for garden buildings. You can't take Japanese garden waterfalls with you, and you need to enter the temple or kneel before the tea table is cleaned!


To clean on all sides, it was suggested to wash hands, face, and rinse mouth in such oriental outdoor water fountains. Make no mistake here - do not let the Japanese gods sip to rinse the water straight from the ladle. Take it in the palm of your hand and only then proceed to the action - the purification of the mind. For this purpose, it is offered to rinse a mouth. And washing and washing hands - cleansing the perishable body.

Types of Tsukubai

japanese style water
  • Natural type. A depression is made in the natural stone about 12-30 cm in diameter. The larger the size of the stone, the larger the diameter. This type of Japanese garden fountain does not have any decor, so it looks completely natural.
  • Imitative type. Tsukubai, modeled after the vessels used in traditional gardens. There are many varieties of oriental garden fountains, and choosing the right one is not difficult:
  • Fusui - Used primarily as a source for a garden stream.
  • Zeni - resembles a round coin with a hole in the center.
  • Natsume - has an oblong shape, reminiscent of the fruit of a jujube (Ziziphus Juss - a thorny shrub of the buckthorn family with small flowers, serrated leaves and edible fruits).
  • Roketsu - "collecting dew".
  • Kesa is a Buddhist robe that leaves one shoulder and arms open.
  • Jinmubutsu - "Buddha Jimmu"
  • Sakazuki - "a cup for sake".

Place to Install Tsukubai

The tsukubai Japanese style garden fountains are positioned relative to the main stone in the garden (as a rule, this stone is located in the central part of the garden and is a reference point for the location of all other components) so that a person while taking a bath, can admire the main stone of the garden and be filled with positive energy.

Nowadays, there is no specific location for the tsukubai water fountains. It is chosen in accordance with other Japanese garden water feature, the relief of the site, etc., However, the following installation locations are most often used:

  1. In the stream (mainly as a source).
  2. In a reservoir (large diameter tsukubai is desirable).
  3. In the lowland (masonry is made around).
  4. On the level ground (it is better if there is a stone, bamboo, living or any other hedge behind).

Particular attention should be paid to ensure that the Japanese fountains outdoors are not located near a waterfall, well log, etc. since there is competition between them.

Tsukubai Installation Methods

tsukubai water fountains
  1. Open installation type. When installed in a stream or body of water, the oriental water fountains are in a “sea” environment, so they must be installed high enough.
  2. Support type. At the same time, the installation height is small, therefore, such forms of Japanese style water as fusui, zeni, joubutsu are suitable, and they are located surrounded by the "sea", therefore it is even better than the water overflows from the tsukubai in all directions.
  3. Implantation. Japanese outdoor fountains stand tall, so the natural type is suitable in most cases. The water flows forward, and the "sea" settles only in front.

What You Need to Make a DIY Japanese Fountain

  • plastic container 40-50 liters,
  • bamboo,
  • concrete vessel "stone bowl",
  • submersible pump with a capacity of about 80 liters per hour,
  • flexible tube for water supply,
  • stainless steel mesh,
  • cable with the socket.

How to Make Tsukubai

We will briefly describe the principle of oriental fountains construction. We use a concrete ring, sheet metal, or just a large container as a base. It is not necessary to layout the stones, although you can decorate the outer walls with their help.

The most important thing in the design of outdoor Japanese water fountains in the upper part of the Japanese garden water basin. In other words, you need to make a square in the circle. Again, different materials are suitable for this: a sheet of iron, for example, wood. You can even insert a square-shaped container - this will be the easiest solution.

Although you can do without a square. Round the fountain in Japan is also acceptable. It is really possible to manage its construction with any large capacity or even an automobile tire. Just make an appropriate decor.

The entire surface of the future oriental water fountain constructed with your own hands can be made "stone" with the help of a cement-sand mortar.

The recipe for the solution as usual:

  • 1 part cement
  • 3 parts sand
  • water

For roughness and greater resemblance to a stone, pour in stone chips or small crushed stone. And also the pigment: to make the surface still resemble an old stone, mix in pigments of green, black, beige. You can add only black and green or only black and beige to the batch.

To make the surface of Japanese garden water basins look "completely stone", use polymer concrete rather than mortar. It is prepared simply, there is no cement in it, no water either. However, you can see in this material in more detail how to prepare polymer concrete "under the stone".

If you still use cement and sand, then when everything is dry, treat the surface with a fixing impregnation.

The inalienable Japanese water features for the garden- a stone lantern, a bridge over a dry stream, and a gazebo standing a little further away for tea drinking - also play a significant role in the design of the shoreline of the Japanese garden basin. The whole atmosphere of the garden is permeated with true peace and tranquility, inviting the tired traveler to stop and enjoy the silence.

To make the water in the Japanese stone fountain look more natural, you can put yellow water lilies in it. They will become a good accent of the reservoir itself: on the one hand, they attract attention from anywhere in the garden, and on the other, they absolutely do not hurt the eyes and do not get out of the general style. It should be noted that the basis of the beauty of a garden with a Japanese reservoir is not at all in a riot of bright colors, but in a soothing play of halftones. Yes, even in winter, such a composition, enlivening with its grandeur the picture of sleeping nature.

DIY Tsukubai with Water Circulation

japan water fountain

To circulate water in a circle, you need a low-power pump. The prices for the simplest mechanisms are not high, but there is a lot of pleasure. By the way, with such a pump you can make a fountain in the garden. The classic tsukubai fountain assumes, for example, Japanese garden water features bamboo as a pipe through which water flows into a reservoir. But, if there is no Japanese garden fountains bamboo, you can get by with a regular plastic pipe. It can be painted. Moreover, you can easily buy Japanese water features for sale.

Fountain Care

In the summer, you need to monitor the water level in the tank. It is not permissible for the pump to run dry. Therefore, we add water every few days. Periodically, you need to remove the pump and flush its elements.

Japanese-style fountain and Japanese garden water features maintenance is not difficult at all. The purity of the Japanese-style fountains is maintained by the timely cutting of the fading inflorescence hanging over the water, and the leaves that have fallen into the water are collected before they sink to the bottom. The bottom cleaning work is carried out in the spring. We use the pumped water for irrigation, and again fill the reservoir with clean water, unlike well water, it does not bloom and does not become cloudy.

For the winter, you should remove the entire structure in a dry place.

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