Chozubachi (washbasin) (手水鉢)

Chozubachi originally referred to a bowl holding water for people to purify themselves by rinsing out their mouths before the altar of a shrine or a temple. Later, it came to be used in the tea ceremony, being placed in roji (a garden adjacent to a ceremonial teahouse), and developed the distinctive style called tsukubai (a stone washbasin).

Varieties of chozubachi

Chozubachi made of natural stone

It is said that this type of chozubachi embodies the spirit of the tea ceremony, such as wabi (taste for the simple and quiet) and sabi (subdued refinement), emphasizing the rustic beauty of natural stone.

As each natural stone has its own shape, the following are only some examples among many.

The Fuji type
This chozubachi is made by creating a hole at the top of the mountain-shaped rock. It was named after Mt. Fuji, the most famous mountain in Japan. The original one is placed in roji of Sekka-tei in Rokuon-ji Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto City).

The straight line type
This type of chozubachi is created by plaining out the surface of a long natural stone and then hollowing it out to make a hole to hold water. A good example is the one in front of the veranda of the drawing room of Shoren-in Temple.

The sickle type
It is a chozubachi made of the sickle-shaped natural stone with a round or oval shaped hole; the one in the roji of Gepparo (tea pavilion) of Katsura Imperial Villa is well known.

The boat type
This is one of the most typical chozubachi and created by making a hole in a boat-shaped stone.

The tagasode (literally sleeve) type
The origin of the name is the shape associated with the sleeve of kimono. The one in front of the veranda of Joju-in, a sub temple of Kiyomizu-dera Temple is famous.

The Shiba Onko (Sima Guang) type
A water hole is made in a rugged stone.

The angler fish type
It is made from an irregular-shaped stone.

Mitatemono chozubachi (literally re-used-object water basins)
It is a chozubachi made of a part of the deserted stone lantern or pagoda, and its old texture evokes the feelings of 'wabi and sabi.'

The kesa (surplice) type
This is made from the stone pagoda and its edge has a surplice-shaped lattice pattern. The one in Shukkei-tei of Shosei-en Garden in Higashi Hongan-ji Temple was made out of the stone pagoda in the Kamakura period.

The iron basin type
The spherical second story of a five-story pagoda was used for this chozubachi.

The Buddhas on four sides
Made out of bodies of Hokyoin pagoda or multi-storied pagoda, featuring the relief of Buddha on sides.

The foundation type
The foundation of a stone lantern is used for this type, and it is considered that those with 'kaeribana (lotus petal design carved around the lower base of a lantern)' are valuable.

The cornerstone type
Made out of the cornerstone of an old building, and there are many different shapes.

The cypress fence type
The umbrella-shaped top story of a multi-storied pagoda is laid on its side and the part of the eave is carved in the shape of basin; this is an unusual type.

The umbrella type
The umbrella part of a stone lantern or a multi-storied pagoda is placed upside down, and its beautiful curve is used for the chozubachi.

Creative chozubachi

During the Edo period, chozubachi came to be considered essential in roji, and many chozubachi came into existence such as those made of natural materials and those designed especially for the chozubachi at roji.

Today most of the washbasins called 'chozubachi' belong to this category, and a lot of imitations of 'masterpieces' from 'famous gardens' are appearing on the market.

The jujube type
The chrysanthemum type
The Ryoan-ji Temple type
The fusen (the letters of "布" and "泉" are brought into relief) type
The bridge pier type
The Ginkaku-ji Temple type
The measuring box type

Chozubachi in front of the veranda.

[Original Japanese]