Where Did Samurai Get Drinking Water?

During Japan’s medieval era (and afterward, in many cases) samurai families (or their servants, in some cases) obtained their drinking water from wells, rivers, or mountain springs – some of which still exist, and can be visited, today.

In Tokushima, a city on the Japanese island of Shikoku, samurai often obtained their drinking water from natural springs that flowed from the base of Mount Bizan.


One such spring, known as Kinryosui, is not only still in existence but still used on a regular basis by residents of Tokushima (despite the fact that they all have running water in their homes – Tokushima is a thoroughly modern city).


Kinryosui sits at the foot of Mount Bizan, and was the primary source of drinking water for Tokushima’s samurai during much of the Edo period (1603-1868). The Awa Han clan, which controlled Tokushima, even established a guard post near the spring to regulate its use.


The wooden structure in the photos was built to protect the spring. Water emerges from the ground and flows into the basin through the spigot in the photo above. People who come to collect the water can place a basin or bucket under the spigot. On the day I visited, in late October, the spring was relatively dry; it flows more freely in other seasons.

It’s cool to think that we can still obtain a drink from the same natural springs that samurai used in medieval Japan.