Healing – 水琴窟 Suikinkutsu

Healing-水琴窟 Suikinkutsu

Winter might just be the best season to enjoy your suikinkutsu. Birds and crickets are gone, the air is still and crystalline, it seems the environment holds its breath until next spring. In one word, acoustics are appropriate. Go out in the garden, put a little water in the chōzubachi, or washbasin, and listen to the ever-changing water drops in the earthen jar buried below ground level.

Found in Japanese gardens and near ceremonial tea rooms, the suikinkutsu is meant to provide soothing and relaxing sounds during hand cleansing prior to the tea ceremony ritual. Dating from the Edo era in 17th century, the tradition slowly declined until the Meiji Era (late 19th-early 20th century) when it was re-discovered, only to be completely forgotten during most of the 20th century. Around 1960, researchers located only two remaining, though not functioning, examples. In the 1980s, a campaign was launched to find, restore and promote suikinkutsu again.


♫ This recording is from a CD titled Healing – Suikinkutsu, published in 2007. As with previous suikinkutsu posts on this blog (here and here), it was found on the web and came without cover artwork or information. The recording was done with microphones inside the jar, so birds, insects, wind or rain are banished, and the recording was possibly done in a studio. It was perhaps inspired by Professor Yoshio Watananbe’s pioneering article Analytical Study of Acoustic Mechanism of Suikinkutsu, 2004, which examines sound frequency, reverberation and droplet behavior.

Note: I felt this blog was badly in need of some purification of one kind or another, so this post is about cleansing our minds before going back to the usual avantgarde stuff.

Healing – 水琴窟 Suikinkutsu
Total time 44:25


.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Nihon teien (日本庭園) = Japanese garden
Chōzubachi (手水鉢) = washbasin
Tsukubai (蹲踞) = stone water basin
Yaku-ishi (役石) = the 3 large stones arranged under the tsukubai
Suikinkutsu (水琴窟) = earthen jar buried below ground level
Suimon = water hole in earthen jar

See also:
水窟琴 Suikinkutsu [1/2] >
水窟琴 Suikinkutsu [2/2] >

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10 Responses to “Healing – 水琴窟 Suikinkutsu”

  1. 1 Twinkle II January 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    it is lovely to listen to something so pure at the dawn of a new year

  2. 2 Twinkle II January 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    cannot help but think of George Brecht’s Drip Music……..

  3. 3 Bodhi Amol January 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Bravo,a quite nice and unusual idea to start the new year with!
    Thank you….

  4. 4 continuo January 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    @Twinkle II: the post was meant to make readers relax and forget the avantgarde shit for a moment… not sure it succeeded, then.
    @Bodhi Amol: a little sidestep before going back to the serious work.

  5. 5 Nature Boy January 3, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Nice article! I have always heard the suikinkutsu is noted for the healing sound it gives people.

  6. 6 continuo January 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Sure. As one focuses on these tiny sound phenomenon, one reaches a meditative state very easily, which helps forget the stressful life.
    Some nice sounds on your website. I’ve just been listening to the “Free 15 minute Virtual Dryer Sound” on the Tinnitus-masking page, and, well… it reminded me I had some laundering to do! Seriously, the Virtual Dreamer website recalls the legendary Environment LP series of the 1970s, which I like a lot.
    Thanks for your comment.

  7. 7 Gentress Myrrh January 4, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Thank you! This has inspired me to try making one of these (or something similar) in my garden. I live in the Pacific Northwest portion of the United States, so raindrops are plentiful this time of year!

  8. 8 continuo January 4, 2012 at 8:59 am

    That’s a wonderful idea, but not so easy to set up. Maybe you could get some inspiration from Jem Finer’s modern version of a suikinkutsu?
    Good luck with your project.

  9. 9 Gentress Myrrh January 5, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    With my attention now pointed toward the sounds of water, I realized that even the sound of rain splashing into our giant rain barrel from the downspout is quite pleasant. I’ll continue looking for (easily installed) ways to turn the rain into music. Thanks again for the post!

  10. 10 continuo January 6, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Sounds lovely!

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