Japanese Garden Basin History & Design
Whether your creating a japanese garden, japanese tea garden, zen garden or just wish to add just a touch of japanese culture to your garden, the stone water basin is a wonderful way to add culture and provide soothing sounds of falling water.


4 Ways to Set-up a Water Basin Fountain


Traditional Japanese Garden Overflowing Basin
This is the traditional japanese garden set-up for a "tsukubai" water basin. The basin is slightly set so the water runs over only the front of the basin into a hidden reservoir.

Equipment needed: basin with no hole, variable rate pump, bamboo fountain, grate, gravel and a reservoir liner.

picture of basin set-upOverflowing Basin Set-up
To set-up an overflowing basin, the basin does not need a drilled hole since the water will overflow from the top of the basin into the reservoir as shown in the diagram.

Equipment need: basin with no hole, variable rate pump, bamboo fountain, bricks, grate, gravel and a 40 mil. 5'x5' liner. We suggest a 40 mil. liner for all reservoirs because it is less likely to get punctured by stones and tree roots.

picture of self contained basinSelf-contained Basin
A larger basin can also be set-up with no external water reservoir.  The pump would re-circulate the water directly from the basin to the bamboo fountainís spout. This set-up would require a drilled basin. Don't forget to top the basin off with water or it will evaporate because most basins are shallow in depth.

Equipment needed: Equipment needed: larger sized basin (2') w/ hole, variable rate pump, bamboo spout. w/stake.


picture of basin with reservoirSelf Contained Basin w/ Reservoir
A basin could also be set-up where the water does not overflow outside the basin, but does have a reservoir. The advantage of this set-up is that the pump is hidden in the reservoir and holds a larger amount of water, so it would not need to be topped off with water as often.

Equipment needed: basin w/ hole, variable rate pump, bamboo fountain spout, bricks, grate, gravel and a 40 mil. 5'x5' liner.


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Japanese Garden Tsukubai Placement with a Sea of Gravel


picture of edge of sea basin set-up There are no set rules on the placement of the tsukubai (crouching bowl) in the Japanese garden, but as a general rule it is best to separate fountains from waterfalls because the two strong elements will compete for attention. Set a stone lantern nearby for vertical balance. Placement and set-up of fountains is mainly a matter of the garden creatorís preference. I have seen basins placed with a sea of gravel and many without any. Here are two examples of placing a basin in a sea.

 In japanese tea gardens, the tsukubai are often seen set up either placed on the "edge of the sea" or placed in the "center of the sea".  A flat rock is usually placed directly in front of the basin for which a person would stand while washing. Two larger rocks on each side of the basin balance the setting.  A bed of gravel  represents the sea and covers the reservoir.  Placed at the "edge of the sea", the basin can be self-contained or overflowing down the front into the reservoir. For an overflowing effect, the basin should be slightly elevated in the back so the water spills only down its front into the sea of gravel.


picture of center of sea basin set-upIn the "center of sea" placement, the basin is placed in the middle of the sea of gravel surrounded by stones. The basin can be set-up with or without a reservoir, or self-contained.

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