Hamon Rain Chains made from Brass and used on both contemporary and traditional buildings
Rain Chains from Japan
Kusari-toi is a form of Japanese architecture which was first implemented when constructing Sukiya-style buildings, or tea-houses for performing tea ceremonies. Sukiya’s architecture first appeared during the Azuchi Momoyama period (approx. 1558-1600 CE) when small tea-houses were called Sukiya in Japan. At the time, Tea masters preferred mundane and rustic aestheticism over formality and splendor, so natural elements were selected for Sukiya architecture. As a result, similar sensibilities can also be seen in Kusari-toi of that period as fibers from the outer layer of hemp-palm plants were woven into a rope called Shuro-nawa, and was hung from the eaves made of bamboo or wood so that rainwater could trickle down the rope to the ground, functioning as Kusari-toi, the original rain-chain.
The shuro-nawa type of rain chain can still be found at the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, next to the entrance of a house historically resided by each generation’s leader of Mitsui family, each successor inheriting the name Hachiroemon Mitsui.
As time passed, drain sprouts, which were formerly made of natural elements such as bamboo and wood, have evolved with the advancement of metal technology and metal materials such as copper were soon used. Rain chains also evolved from shuro-nawa ropes to linked metal chains and further developed to cup-shaped metal for improved water flow.
The evolving rain chain, which is a functional drainage ornament designed specifically for traditional Japanese architecture, slowly saw its use expand to residential homes about a half century ago. The increasing inclination towards Western style homes during the following years reduced the number of rain chain being used. However, due to its captivating design, a revival is observed in recent years where architects increasingly incorporate it on buildings with Japanese tastes or transforming it as a façade on modern commercial buildings which are all new ideas that had not existed with the conventional perspective.