Entering the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego is like moving into another world. For starters, the garden is quiet and uncongested. Unlike other parts of Balbao Park, it requires an admission fee, so only the committed enter. With the bustle of the larger park- roller bladers, cyclists, Frisbee throwers – left behind, I was drawn in by a simple curving path.
One of the first design elements that encouraged me to pause is the simple water feature pictured above. A few pieces of bamboo guide a small stream of water onto a large rock where it splashes, overflows and disappears into the smaller pebbles.
Though beautiful by itself, this feature is actually a highly intentional ornament. It is called Tsukubai – a basin used for ritual cleansing. The cup sitting on the largest rock is used to collect water from the basin for a three step cleansing process: first for the hands - to cleanse the body; second to sip - to cleanse the spirit; and third, to clean the cup itself for the next person.