Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Sounds of Japan: Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens or 日本提案 (にほんていえん) are famous for the feeling of peace, tranquility and harmony with nature that they create. The use of sound forms an important part of how this effect is created.

It is done in 3 ways:

Photo: Sound World

1. Shishiodoshi or 鹿威し means 'scare the deer' and is the name of a bamboo water devise designed to scare away birds, deer and other animals but is now used for decoration in traditional Japanese gardens. As water pours into the bamboo pipe it becomes heavier until it finally tips and empties the water out. When empty the weighted end of the pipe returns it to its original position making a loud tock sound as it hits a stone or rock.

Chōzubachi or tsukubai.
Photo: Wikipedia

2. Chōzubachi or 手水鉢 is the name of the ceremonial stone basin often found at the entrance of the Japanese garden and is sometimes called tsukubai or 蹲踞. A ladle is used to wash your hands with water from the basin in an act of purification before entering a temple or beginning a tea ceremony. The constant trickle of water into and overflowing the basin creates a refreshing effect.

Photo: Wikipedia

3. Suikinkutsu or 水琴窟 means 'water koto cave' and is made by burying an upturned pot in the ground and covering it with stones and pebbles. When water is poured over the stones it trickles down into the pot which makes a strange echoing plink as it splashes into a pool of water in the bottom. The noise is said to resemble a bell or koto hence its name. The suikinkutsu is often found next to the chōzubachi.

Further Reading:
NHK World's Begin Japanology: Sounds of Japan

This article is part of my A Pillow Book of Japan project.


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