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Tsukubai (The Stone Washbasin in a Japanese garden)


NO.31
Tsukubai (The Stone Washbasin in a Japanese garden)
It is said that this tsukubai was donated by Mitsukuni Tokugawa (also famous with the name Mito-komon or in other words Komon-san ).
After finishing the contemplation of the stone garden of Roanji temple, don't miss to see one more spot, namely the stone washbasin, called Chisoku-no-tsukubai at the back side of the priest's square chamber. Tsukubai is a bowl-like washbasin near the entrance of a tea room where you wash your hands before entering the tea room. According to the spirit of the way of tea, the guest should lower his body to wash his hands and this is the beginning of his purification. This posture of the guest is called 'tsukubai'in Japanese from the verb 'tsukubau' which means to crouch or squat down. This Chisoku-no-tsukubai has a rectangular opening full with water at its center and four characters are placed around it. If we look carefully the central opening represents the character for mouth (kuchi) and it forms new characters if combined with the characters placed around it. If we read the combination of all the letters, formed in this way, the result is an old proverb: 'I know and I am content with what I have'. This comes from the Buddhist sayings and it emphasizes the importance to restrain the desires and know your own mind. Nowadays, in the age of high consumption society, I guess a bit of self-admonition and appreciation might have a positive effect.

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