The Stone Water Basin is an element found in many small gardens in Japan, including traditional tea gardens, residential entrance gardens, courtyard gardens, etc. It is a very versatile feature and can work as a focal point in a very small garden space, or an impactful feature in a medium-sized space, like an entrance garden.
The Basin itself can be a number of different designs, but the two basic categories would be a natural boulder basin, or a basin carved out of stone, usually some type of granite.
The Water Basin may or may not have a recirculating pump pushing a stream of water through a spout and into the Basin, over the front edge and down into a reservoir, which then pushes the water into the spout again. The photo here shows an aged Basin, hand-carved, without a recirculating system. If possible though, adding the sight and sound of gently splashing water is a big bonus.
To make the most of this feature, displaying it in its typical Japanese Water Basin Arrangement is the best bet. In this setting, the Basin sits in the center, surrounded by an arrangement of smaller stones. These stones will have a purpose, especially if the Basin is to be used in the Tea Ceremony. Even if the Basin is not in a Tea Garden, a loose interpretation of this arrangement offers aesthetic value. Besides the stones, the Basin Arrangement will have a number of smaller plants surrounding it, especially around the sides and back. The planting scheme can vary wildly, but a good rule of thumb is to make sure the plantings allow the Basin to shine as the focal point, and not overtake it.
Whatever the style, surrounding stone arrangement or planting scheme is, a Japanese Stone Water Basin can be one of the most doable garden features to adapt from the Japanese Garden Tradition. And if the space is small, it can be the main focal point.