Making A Traditional Japanese Village Paludarium

Hello again and welcome back to part three of the Japanese-inspired bantamarium experience. If this is the first of the four-part Shinto Series that you are seeing don’t worry I will catch you up without boring everyone else. Today’s project will be a traditional Japanese village paludarium.

Japanese Architecture In a terrarium

In our first tank, we introduced the meaning behind my motivation to make this series with a Shinzo sculpture jungle terrarium. We lit things up with the second living diorama while elaborating on the structure behind Shintoism with a tōrō lantern rock garden terrarium. This enclosure will aim to take things up a few notches by scaping out an entire village in a paludarium.

Making a Japanese village Paludarium

Shinto beliefs as well as Buddhism had a big influence on Japan’s early architecture. I thought it would be very fitting to build a semi-aquatic environment that showcased the strong emphasis on human’s relationship with nature. Let’s me show you how I made a Japanese village paludarium:



Traditional Japanese Architecture Decor Construction:

Here’s where attention to detail and a steady hand come into play. Unlike the models in our first two projects, there will be some degree of assembly required. This technically just means gluing the roofs to the tops of all the buildings. I intentionally designed these this way to make painting easier.

At first glance, painting these models might seem like an overwhelming task to a novice artist but I will show you an easy way to achieve a realistic finish to how I painted these models. Start by painting all the roofs light green. The texture of the models will do most of the heavy lifting.

Once the roofs are dry, I run across them with a dry brush of light brown. The light feathering will make the roofs look aged. Once the secondary color is applied, a dab of yellow is applied to the tips and edges.

For the buildings, I decided to paint the walls and floors dark brown to resemble raw wood. Since the roofs will cover most of the details with these models I didn’t waste any time painting windows. Finally, use a toothpick to paint the rails red. Red has always been seen as a way to defend against bad kami so it’s very common to see traditional buildings painted red in Japan.

As per usual with all my models, spray clear sealant over everything BEFORE you glue the roofs on to lock the paint into place. After that dries, you can apply the roofs and move on to assembling the paludarium.

The Japanese Village Paludarium Construction:

Now that you’ve made your Japanese architecture your own, let’s make a suitable environment to place those models in. For this enclosure, I’m going to use the larger six-inch vase compared to the smaller vases I used in the first two projects.

Start by pouring aquarium gravel into the vase. You should be aiming for a layer at least an inch deep. My plan will be to grow a carpeting plant along the bottom so a good substrate will be vital for a healthy root system later.

The idea will be to balance a C-shaped landmass over the water section for our village to prosper on so adding rocks around the edge of the inner rim will provide elevated support later.

Next, I planted some Monte Carlo around those rocks and poured a little bit of sand around the front/midsection to further enhance the island look.

with the bottom portion of the tank setup, let’s take a moment to build a platform for the upper terrain portion of this paludarium. I started by gluing a series of Lava rocks together. Using another empty vase for reference, I formed what looked like a quarter moon.

Once assembled, I slowly dropped it into the tank making any needed adjustments to get a perfectly leveled surface. Any gaps found between rocks are easily covered with rocks without being glued in.

I pour small bits of black gravel over my platform to fill in any more gaps and start to create various hills for my buildings to sit on. This is followed by a tiny sand path between the larger buildings to give a sense of community and further enhance scale.

With buildings in place, we can proceed to plants and complete the upper portion of our paludarium.

Japanese village Paludarium Plants

Since the underwater area has Monte Carlo placed, the foilage we will focus on will be the terrestrial area. For this, I simply used fern moss to cover the background areas between the buildings.

Barbula Moss is peppered throughout the rest of the terrain. This moss is a really good carpeting moss I use often so I enjoy watching this stuff take on and spread as it acclimates to a new environment.

Traditional Japanese Paludarium Animals

My usual cleanup crew (springtails) went in after I completed the build. These guys do a great job keeping the mold at bay. I doubt I will add anything to the water column of this paludarium since there is no water circulation.

Mini Paludarium Care

As with most of my miniature terrariums, this tank should do well on its own. As things grow in, the natural take over will only further enhance the scenery. The water will need to be changed in this tank for the first couple of weeks.

Final Thoughts

This was a slightly more detailed and bigger project than the first two. With that being said, you have a miniature Japanese village paludarium that looks like something from the early 17th century! Pretty neat if you ask me… Well if you were a fan of this setup you are going to really be in for a treat on the next one because we are going to take this idea to the next level!

If you’re interested in seeing updates on how this as well as other enclosures progress follow me on social media. If you’d like to get your tall tweezers on one of these limited edition vivarium decors yourself, check them out in our shop.

Shinto Kami Sculpture (Shinzō)
Japanese Pagoda/Tōrō Lamp Decor
Traditional Japanese Architecture Decor
Shinto Shrine Decor Set

More In Make:

Make A Coastal Village Aquatic Cliffside Terrarium
Making A Shinto Kami Jungle Terrarium
Make A Tōrō Lamp Rock Garden Terrarium