Suikinkutsu - water harp

Is anyone familiar with this Japanese term which seems to translate as ‘water harp’? These (often underground) ceramic chambers resonate with the sound of occasional random water dripping into standing water. Suikinkutsu are often buried in front of ritual cleansing stations at Japanese temples where they catch the post-wash water drops dripping from the hands. No two suikinkutsu sound the same.

Has anyone seen one in Japan or built one locally?


I have to try to make one but want to add one to the garden.

The first one I heard was in the bar district of Yokohama. I heard it half a block away. Took me several passes to understand what I was hearing…
Totaly awesome. Been looking for a proper domestic ceramic with the right sound for years. Most are too small for proper resonance, or not the right acoustic ‘ping’ (finger thunk.) firing hardness.
Just getting to the point in my garden plan that I can do a water feature. Had to wait for the ducks to go away…
Dream On!

1 Like

I did not realize they could be heard over a 1/2 block distance. I thought they were intended to be more subtle and intimate.
If the size of the resonance chamber and the hardness of the fired clay are determining factors do you think you can determine the sound you will achieve prior to assembly? Does the chamber have to be fairly tightly sealed or is there some flexibility?

1 Like

More of a alleyway, no cars… Ya, oddest sound to hear in a big city. Klunk, flush, gurgle, tinkle, ping, tinkle, ping, ping… Got MY attention. The bar had good sake, too…
The idea is: a very large upside down, tall(4 ft?), round sound chamber. High fired pot tuned … to reverberate…
Largish drain / sounding hole, with special inner lip to drip and largish outer lip to hold water. Coupled with a bambo tip trough and pump. Needs a holding pond under it. Usually the whole thing is buried in the ground so the sound radiates up and out. Ceramic, not concrete.
Real ones can be bought from specialty Japanese stores. Arm and a leg. I have seen several ‘pots’ here that might have worked, $300+…
Bonsai On!

holy crap thats awesome