Water is considered purifying in Japan, hence the emphasis on cleanliness in everyday life. Water fountains such as these, known as tsukubai, are also beneficial to hear the trickling of falling water to soothe the nerves as well. A tsukubai is a small basin provided at Japanese Buddhist temples for visitors to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth. This type of ritual cleansing is also the custom for guests attending a tea ceremony.
Tsukubai are usually of stone, and are often provided with a small scoop, laid across the top, ready for use.