Many words sum up the sound of running water to me – tranquillity, mesmerising and relaxing to name but a few. No surprise then to find that rain chains originated hundreds of years ago in Japan. They were used as a decorative and practical water feature for capturing rainwater for homes and Buddhist temples. The Japanese name for them is ‘Kursari-doi’. They were originally ‘chains’ (a series of chain links), similar to our Om rain chain, which quickly guided rainwater off the roof into a storage barrel whilst providing the tranquil sound of running water.
They have been gaining popularity in the UK since the 1998 Winter Olympics which were held in Japan. Cup designs (such as the Lily and Tulip) in various metals have become very fashionable. They do the same job as a chain but the rainwater flows slightly slower. They are a series of cups linked together with a chain; with small holes in the bottom of each cup to allow the rainwater continue its journey to a container at the bottom.
These kinetic sculptures provide great value to the garden environment, providing movement, beauty and sound. The water sound being music like, gives one a feeling of peace and tranquillity, one of the Zen arts.
Various containers can be used – barrels, pots, copper basins designed to match the rain chains or simply allow the water to drain into the earth.
An added bonus of having a rain chain in the garden is the environmentally friendly factor. Collecting rainwater for your plants is possibly something for all gardeners to consider especially in areas where summer droughts are becoming more frequent.