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Rain Chain – A Japanese Tradition

The kusari-doi, or rain chain is a Japanese invention that has been around for hundreds of years as a way to direct rainwater from the roof into a basin for drinking. Rain chains usually come with a water basin made from copper or stone to catch the water from the roof. A rain chain can come in many different styles and materials, to this day in fact, in Japan; people still make them by hand from copper. A copper rain chain will enhance the aesthetic nature of any house or garden, but in the past they have been associated with the Japanese tea ceremony.

In the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, rain chains are used near the waiting bench where people wait to be admitted into the tea house. The long walk to the tea house through an elaborate zen-budist garden will finally end up in front of the waiting patio, before entering the tea house itself, where there is a bench to sit upon and take ones shoes off. This is the perfect place to find a rain chain glistening with the sound of trickling water from the rooftop, giving spiritual meaning to the whole.

Both in western architecture and traditional eastern methods of aesthetic decoration such as Fung Shui for example, the rain chain makes an impressive addition to any roof. The sound of running water down a rain chain and into a basin is just one of the more beautiful aspects of a rain chain, but more importantly that it serves a purpose (to direct rainwater). Perhaps creative gardeners, or do-it-yourselfers, are looking for something like this to filter water before reverting it into a cistern; however, this system is too small for such an idea.

This is why funnel style rain chains work better than cup style, because a cup style rain chain could become far too heavy to support its own weight, and could break. A funnel style rain chain allows the water to constantly flow down its length in place of a downspout while rain chains that look like interweaving double rings will splash a lot of water around the original trajectory. Materials range from copper to plastic, and are hand made to this day in Japan.

People who make copper rain chains by hand are the ones who have been doing this for generations, and pass it on from father to son. But even in Japan the modern eye of industrialization has developed them into a market. The Japanese may pay anywhere from 200 – 500 US$ and up while buying the finished product in Japan. But outside of Japan, the rain chain is the work of tinkers and artesians, and almost lost art. Thus finding them means finding them custom made.

To make a copper rain chain is a patient and refined task that for the Japanese is a kind of meditation as well as production. Copper is a natural metal used in religious ceremonies and revered as part of the spiritual experience, so working with such a noble mettle is making ones thoughts noble as well. Very subjective, yet very much a part of the tradition that developed the art of rain chain crafting. Understanding how the Japanese make copper rain chains is just as beautiful as the rain chain itself balancing to and from the gutter.

Buy other rain chains here! Thank you!




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Posted in Diversion by Administrator on March 7, 2006.

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