(Video) Drying the chawan with the chakin.

Notes on the Practice of Chanoyu — a Short Introduction for People Without Access to a Teacher (6d - Wari-geiko 1: How to Dry the Chawan with the Chakin)

Before talking about the mechanics of drying the chawan with the chakin, we should first look at the chawan — to discover the reasoning behind the process.


     In the above photo, it will be noticed that there is a depressed circle in the middle of the bottom of the bowl.  This is called the cha-damari [茶溜り]¹, and since it is the place where the matcha is placed as it is taken out from the chaire, it is dried first².  Next the host dries the chasen-zuri [茶筅摺り], which is the part of the bowl (roughly from the outer edge of the cha-damari to the point where the side of the bowl turns upward) over which the chasen works.  And finally the upper sides of the bowl (below the rim) are dried — the area known as the yubi-zuri [指摺り] (or, especially in modern writings, the chakin-zuri [茶巾摺り])³.  After this, the outside of the mouth of the bowl is dried, first the front (using the previously unused back side of the chakin, and then the back side.  In a sense, then, we can say that the drying process moves from the most ritually significant (the “purest”) part of the bowl to the least significant⁴.

     Drying the chawan with the chakin is an action which never occurs out of a specific context⁵:  after rinsing (and warming) the chawan with hot water (or, at the end of the temae, performing the chasen-tōshi using cold water), the used water is discarded into the koboshi.  Doing so results in a drop of water clinging to the lower edge of the rim of the bowl.  Therefore, before drying the chawan, this drop of water must be blotted away first with the chakin (otherwise it will potentially fall onto the floor, or onto the host’s kimono, in either case leaving an unsightly spot). 

     The chakin is held with the open side downward (so that, if viewed from the side, it would resemble an upside-down v: “”).  Most of the drying is done with the bottom side.

     While this is technically not part of the process of drying the chawan with the chakin, it necessarily always precedes it, and so the video begins immediately after the chawan has been emptied into the koboshi.


     After emptying the chawan into the koboshi, the host picks up the chakin from wherever it has been placed⁶, and first rubs it along the lower edge of the mouth, to blot away the drop of water that is clinging there.  Then begins the actual drying process.  (The chawan remains more or less above the koboshi while the host is drying it with the chakin.)

1) The host begins by drying the cha-damari, first on the left and then on the right (1, 2, in the above sketch).

2) Next he progresses to the chasen-zuri, again left and then right (3, 4).

3) Then the yubi-zuri (chakin-zuri), left and right (5, 6).

4) Then the host moves to the rim of the bowl:  he wipes first the front⁷ (7) with the back side of the chakin (which side has not contacted the chawan before and so is very clean), and then the back side of the mouth (8) using the front face of the chakin.  While performing this final pass, the host simultaneously moves the bowl from the left side (above the koboshi) to the center of his body, above his knees.

5) Then the chakin is put into the chawan, and the chawan is placed down on the mat in front of the host’s knees.


     As mentioned previously, the chawan is placed so that its foot is to the right of the central kane, and the far side touches the front edge of the yū-yo⁸.

◎ When performing chanoyu for your guests, the template must never be placed out in the space you are using as the utensil mat.  It is intended only to help you during practice — to give you the same sense of the space to which you otherwise would have been exposed if you began studying chanoyu using the daisu, as Rikyū wrote was the best way to learn.


¹The chawan shown was made in the early Edo period, and so has a pronounced cha-damari [茶溜り] — since this was considered important in the classical period when chanoyu was dominated by people from the continent.  More recently made bowls are often missing this feature.  Nevertheless, they should be dried with the chakin just as if a distinct cha-damari were present.

²The yubi-zuri [指摺り] is often renamed the chasen-zuri [茶巾摺り] in modern-day chanoyu (since the practice of rubbing the side of the chawan with the thumb when cleaning up after the service of koicha began to fall out of favor in the Edo period*, and then was completely forgotten by all but the most conservative lineages of practitioners). 

     However, some of the schools which still adhere to the older methods† still use the thumb to clean the bowl in the original way.
*This was probably part of the Japanization of chanoyu (whether deliberate or not).  It was a Korean practice to rub the interior of vessels with the thumb to clean it (this kind of thing was one reason why the hands must be kept especially clean at all times).  And while a chakin (or piece of kaishi) is usually used nowadays to clean up after drinking koicha (originally the naked thumb was used by the guest, and the tea wiped off was sucked from the thumb so it would not be wasted — again following the classical Korean mannerism), we still observe something like the original practice when we wipe the rim of the bowl with the thumb and first finger after drinking usucha.

†Such as the Nampō-ryū and certain divisions within the Nambō school (which purport to follow the teachings of the Nampō Roku).  The Sen schools and schools that adhere to their methods have wholly abandoned the practice (which contributes to making books like the Nampō Roku unintelligible to most modern tea practitioners).

³The modern schools dry the chawan differently.  First they drape the partially unfolded chakin over the side of the bowl and dry the rim and sides, and then refold the chakin and dry the bottom.  This is the reverse of the process described here (and shows a lack of familiarity with the original intention, as described above).

     In fact, the modern way of doing this also dates from antiquity.  But in gokushin-no-chanoyu, this was the method used to dry the chasen-oki after it had been used to wash the used chasen at the end of the temae*.  Because the chasen-oki was of variable ritual purity (like the koboshi, it was clean at the beginning, but dirty at the end), a method of drying it with the chakin was devised to reflect the inverse level of purity of this bowl from the omo-chawan [主茶碗, “main chawan”], the temmoku.

     The anomalous use of this method of wiping the chawan  came to be incorporated into the normal wabi-cha temae by mistake.  In gokushin-no-chanoyu, the omo-chawan was always a smaller bowl, and usually a dai-temmoku [臺天目], and the kae-chawan or chasen-oki was always a large bowl, like an ido-chawan.  With the advent of wabi-no-chanoyu after the middle of the fifteenth century, the dai-temmoku and other utensils associated with gokushin-no-chanoyu were put away, and the pieces that had been “neglected” in the earlier form of chanoyu came to be preferred for this tea shared among equals.  Chief among these was the large chawan.  While previously this bowl was never used to serve tea†, it now became the preferred omo-chawan.  But while that meant that the way to dry the chawan with the chakin should have been changed to the way in which the omo-chawan was supposed to be dried (as is done in Rikyū’s temae), certain (and unfortunately, influential) machi-shū practitioners misunderstood and assumed that the former process was restricted to small bowls, such as the temmoku, while this method was reserved for drying the large bowls (though really this was only true when the large bowl was being used as a chasen-oki/kae-chawan, not as the omo-chawan).  Thus most machi-shū continued to dry the large chawan just as it had been dried with the chakin after the bowl was used to clean the dirty chasen at the end of the daisu temae.  The practice became mainstream only when the leadership of chanoyu fell into Sōtan’s hands, and the correct way to do this was largely forgotten.
*Originally the chasen-oki, which is also called a kae-chawan (the name means “substitute chawan”), was never used to serve tea.  It was used only to carry the chakin and chasen (and sometimes the chashaku) into the tearoom, to wash the used chasen with cold water at the end of the temae, and then remove these things from the room after the temae was concluded.  This was done because it was felt improper to put the “dirty” chasen back into the temmoku to clean it afterwards (even though the chasen had become dirty preparing koicha in the temmoku-chawan); such was the gokushin logic.

†Originally this was the case in Japan.

     Earlier, in Korea, chanoyu was performed, as an exercise in motion meditation, when offering tea to the Buddha (who was always considered to be the “main guest”).  So that the tea would not be wasted, however, the bowl was sometimes then passed to someone else, usually a prominent member of the congregation (lacking which, the person doing the temae probably drank the tea himself).  The ceremonial preparation of tea was eventually adopted by the Koryeo court as well, as a way to offer tea to special dignitaries (and from there the courtly practice spread to both Yuan, and Japan). 

       In the earliest days of chanoyu in Japan, however (since the practice was introduced by former court officials, rather than monks), the shōkyaku was invariably a nobleman (this is why, when a daisu and furo were discovered in the storehouse of the Daitokuji, “nobody knew what they were or how they might be used,” as Kanamori Sōwa noted in his History of Chanoyu in Japan — the ritual in the strictly Buddhist context was apparently foreign to Japan, since from the start chanoyu in Japan was limited to the secular/political sphere; it was only after the appearance of the expatriate Shukō, during the second half of the fifteenth century, that the purpose of these objects was revealed to the Japanese monks, though it seems that even then chanoyu was never used as a form of motion meditation in Japanese Zen temples, as it had been on the continent). 

     However, by the middle of the century the chasen-oki was being used to serve tea to certain of the shōkyaku's attendants (first by mixing up the cha-no-ato [茶の跡], the koicha remaining in the chawan after the shōkyaku had consumed all that could be drunk, and pouring this into the kae-chawan for his attendants to finish; and still later, using some of the tea remaining in the chaire for this purpose, once matcha became more readily available in Japan).

     Note that the words chasen-oki [茶筅置] and kae-chawan [替茶碗] are used interchangeably:  they refer to the same bowl.

⁴This is both because the chakin is cleanest, and because it is also driest at this point. 

     Each time the chakin touches a new part of the bowl, it absorbs whatever moisture is present there, and so becomes progressively wetter (even if this is not really apparent to us).  Thus the place where the tea will be placed when first removed from the chawan should naturally be as dry as possible (since moisture can cause the tea to form into hard lumps — called katamari [固まり], in Japanese — which are difficult or impossible to break up when the chasen is being used properly).

     After the chaire is closed and put down, the matcha will be spread out with the chashaku — but since this is later, the surrounding areas will have dried by evaporation.

     The presence of katamari makes the koicha unsuitable to offer to ones guests.

⁵The chawan is dried with the chakin:

- after the initial chasen-tōshi;

- after the process of cleaning the bowl that follows the serving of koicha*;

- immediately before each bowl of usucha is prepared;

- and, after the final chasen-tōshi (using cold water) at the end of the temae.
*If the host is serving only koicha in this temae, with usucha served later (using at least partially different utensils — and perhaps in a different room as well), the final chasen-tōshi is done with cold water at this time, and the subsequent steps deleted from the temae.

     It is important to note that, while Rikyū preferred to serve both koicha and usucha during the same temae in the wabi setting, Jōō — who was the man responsible for creating the formal chakai [茶會], or tea gathering (in other words, a gathering devoted exclusively to the service of tea, without any other non-tea-related activities included), in the first place, preferred to serve koicha and usucha in different temae, perhaps with a break between them (so the host could replenish the fire if necessary, and the guests could rest their legs). 

     Jōō’s gathering began with the laying of the fire under a cold kama, then kaiseki to pass the time while the kama heated, followed by kashi, then naka-dachi, koicha, a second rebuilding of the fire — during which the guest could leave the room if they needed to do so — and then usucha:  Jōō served an individual bowl of koicha to each guest, with the extensive cleaning in between (just as in Rikyū’s temae that is being narrated in this series of posts), but meaning that the koicha-temae took quite a while if the number of guests was large.  Usually Jōō invited five or six guests, but up to ten people occasionally attended his chakai. The modern chaji [茶事] follows the general pattern of Jōō’s gathering (though in the Edo period sui-cha [吸い茶], where all of the guests share a single large bowl of koicha, replaced Jōō individual servings of thick-tea — as a way to save time).

     Even earlier, in the days when tea was exclusively included during some other sort of gathering (such as a poetry meeting, or one dedicated to the appreciation of incense), koicha was served in the shoin (using the furo on a shin-daisu) and then usucha was served in the neighboring kusari-no-ma [鎖の間], using a fire sunken below floor-level (in a round iron hearth made out of an old rice-cooking pot, the precursor to the ro) and the kyū-dai daisu (or, later, the fukuro-dana).  Thus a precedent certainly exists for doing things differently from what Rikyū himself preferred.

     It should also be mentioned that when Rikyū was entertaining someone like Hideyoshi, the gathering in the small room, at which both koicha and (usually a single bowl of) usucha (for each guest) were served by the host using the same container of tea (and food service minimized to hassun and sake, followed by kashi), was followed by a formal banquet in the shoin, after which the daisu was used to serve usucha more leisurely (often with the shōkyaku taking a turn to prepare a bowl of usucha for the host).  Thus, while Rikyū had his preferences, he was also flexible in how he allowed them to play out, occasion by occasion.

     Ultimately, it comes down to this:  during his lifetime, Rikyū had the reputation for always doing things in the simplest way possible — simpler, in fact, than could be said for any of his contemporaries.  This was the hallmark of his Way of Chanoyu (and perhaps what made his way attractive to people like Nobunaga and Hideyoshi — that everything could be done by a single person, without expending huge amounts of time, and without needing the assistance of a multitude of underlings and the element of chaos and conflict that such numbers necessarily invite).  And this inclination to simplify became more pronounced as he grew older (the charm of the Mozuno ko-yashiki lies in the fact that it really does enable the host to realize this ideal better than any other setting can do).  So when we think about doing chanoyu in foreign countries, incorporating it into our modern Western way of living (and maybe this now applies even in Japan — the age of the leisurely daimyo practitioners who can spend a week preparing and another cleaning up have long ceased to be the norm for the vast majority of people involved with chanoyu), simplifying things as much as possible is important (if only because it minimizes the number of things that one must prepare — the number of utensils, many of which have to be imported, or in Japan at least specially procured, is reduced to a minimum; and the amount of food and other pre-preparations reduced to what can be done in an hour or two, and without needing anyone to help).  This, finally, is the attraction of Rikyū’s way, and the reason why it is as well suited to the modern world as it was to him in his day.  The same simply can not be said about any of the other options.

⁶Usually at the beginning of the temae the chakin is resting on the corner of the shiki-ita that is closest to the middle of the mat.  Once it has been used to dry the chawan after serving koicha, however, it is thereafter placed on the lid of the kama (which is resting on the futaoki at one side of the temae-za).

⁷The chakin simultaneously contacts both the top and the outer edge of the mouth of the bowl, thus the part of the bowl that will come into contact with the lips of the guest.

Yū-yo [有余] means a space that is not used during the temae.

     The 2-sun-wide space (shaded in gray) between the far edge of the temae-za and the front edge of the mukō-ro * is one of several yū-yo found on the utensil mat.  Nothing should ever be placed within the yū-yo, and most utensils† should not even extend over it.
*The shiki-ita is placed 2-sun back from the front edge of the mukō-ro.  It also extends 1-sun beyond its left edge, to compensate for the missing heri on the right side of the ro.  (Thus the mukō-ro is technically outside of the heri — it is actually derived from the original form of the ro that was cut in the mat next to the utensil mat — while the furo is placed within the heri.)

†The notable exception to this rule is the chashaku.  Originally the chashaku was placed on a tray, and the tip of the bowl did not extend any farther than the back side of the chaire (the length of the bowl was equal to the distance between the back side of its foot and the back side of the chaire).  But when Shukō did away with the tray and instead rested the chashaku on top of the lid of the large katatsuki, the chashaku projecting into the yū-yo became unavoidable.


I have added two kane-wari sketches to the post entitled Notes on the Practice of Chanoyu — a Short Introduction for People Without Access to a Teacher (6b - Wari-geiko 1: How to Wipe the Chaire and Chashaku with the Fukusa).  The readers might want to look back at that post, since I believe the sketches will make things clearer.

— Daniel M. Burkus


(Video) Folding the chakin.

Notes on the Practice of Chanoyu — a Short Introduction for People Without Access to a Teacher (6c - Wari-geiko 1: How to Fold the Chakin)

Things like folding the chakin should not be done as if you are a robot.  Unfortunately, this is somewhat easy when one is performing a repetitive action such as this¹.  You should always be aware of what you are doing:  look and consider, and then act.


     The chakin is 1-shaku wide, and 5-sun from top to bottom.  It is hemmed on the top and bottom edges, with the hems rolled and stitched on opposite sides. 

◎ The hem at the top should be visible on the front side, and that on the bottom should be on the back side of the chakin when it will be folded.

     The steps are illustrated in the following sketch, and will be narrated below. 


1) First, the chakin is spread out, and smoothed by pulling in opposite directions while moving the cloth back and forth slightly (this is achieved by rotating the hands from the wrists).

2) Then beginning at the top, one third of the width is folded over, away from oneself (sketch, upper and middle left).

3) This is repeated once again, so that the cloth is now one-third of its width (sketch, bottom left).

4) Then the right side is lifted upward and suspended from the right hand, while the let hand releases its grasp, and then pinches the cloth in the middle (at the pint marked “c-c" in the third sketch from the right).

5) The right hand lowers toward the right while keeping the cloth taunt, and the left hand rotates toward the left at the wrist.  Then the right hand folds the doubled right side against the side of the left hand (at “d-d”).

6) Finally, the chakin is rotated counter-clockwise, and then pinched in half (at “e-e”).

     Then the folded chakin is put down, so that if viewed from the side it would look like an upside-down v: “”.  (The photo shows the folded chakin seen from the front, left; and from the side, right.)


¹Young men seem to be especially susceptible to falling into this sort of habit — they imagine that such mechanical perfection gives their temae an air of masculinity and strength.  For this reason, the Japanese used to say that the “best” temae* is one performed by an elderly person, who is beginning to loose their coordination and becoming forgetful if they do not deliberately focus their concentration on what they are doing — every step of the way.  Another way to say it is that you must forget the temae, and simply do what is necessary to make tea — with each time as if this were the first time you have ever done it before.  It should be spontaneous and fresh, and lacking in anything that gives a feeling of premeditation and training.
*The “best” temae is one that produces a good bowl of koicha

     Nevertheless, it is important to point out that anything — anything — that catches the guest’s eye (and so remains in his memory afterward) is wrong.  When the temae is finished, it should be as if it never took place at all.  


     This was why Sen no Dōan, Rikyū’s only biological son (who was the only person Rikyū believed was truly capable of succeeding him), created the Dōan-gakoi [道安圍い], a room (above) where the host performed his temae behind a closed fusuma (with only the kama, mizusashi, and tsuri-dana visible to the guests through an opening in the wall.  The fusuma was opened only once the koicha had been prepared, so that the host could pass the chawan to the guests.  (The fusuma remained open while the host served usucha, and then was closed again after haiken was finished.)

(Video 2) Cleaning the chashaku with the fukusa.

(Video 1) Cleaning the chaire with the fukusa.

Notes on the Practice of Chanoyu — a Short Introduction for People Without Access to a Teacher (6b - Wari-geiko 1: How to Wipe the Chaire and Chashaku with the Fukusa)

I.  Cleaning the Chaire with the Fukusa.

The fukusa should be folded (as in the previous post) and inserted into the futokoro of the host’s kimono.

     The chaire is wiped in the following steps, as shown in the sketch:


1) The host removes the folded fukusa from his futokoro and proceeds to clean the katatsuki:

2) He first wipes the lid (front “1—>" and then back side "2—>”, then brushes the dust off to the right “3—>”).

3) Then he cleans the shoulder (the right side “4—>”, and then the left side “5—>”).

4) Then he traces a third stroke across the front and toward the right side “6—>”, and follows this with a stroke down the right side of the chaire “7—>" (to remove the dust from the shoulder and also wipe away any dust that is clinging to the side of the chaire).

5) Then the fukusa is returned to the host’s futokoro and the chaire is carefully put down on the mat, as shown in the following sketch.


II.  Cleaning the Chashaku with the Fukusa.

Again, the fukusa should be already folded (as in the previous post) and inserted into the futokoro of the host’s kimono.  Also, the chashaku should be resting across the rim of the chawan, and oriented so that it is facing upward;

1) The fukusa is taken out of the futokoro, one fold is opened, and it is laid on the left palm. 

2) The chashaku is picked up and rested lightly on top of the fukusa with the fushi¹ just beyond the point where the left thumb will press; the host continues to hold on to the chashaku with the right hand.

3) Then the host folds the fukusa over the chashaku and begins to wipe toward the far end; the reason for doing this is to actually clean the chashaku, thus light pressure should be applied to the fukusa.

4) When the left thumb reaches the end of the bowl of the chashaku pressure should be relaxed, and the fukusa is slipped backward to the point where it started; then the wiping is repeated once more in the same way.

5) When the fukusa returns to the starting point from the second wipe, the host pinches the chashaku lightly with the fukusa again; but this time, rather than moving the fukusa, the chashaku is pushed forward from behind with the right hand; and then, after the host releases his grip on the butt end of the handle, he moves his right hand around to the front side of the fukusa (the fushi should not be protruding beyond the far edge of the fukusa), and pulls the chashaku forward with two motions.  With the second of these, the chashaku should pull free of the far edge of the fukusa.

6) Then, as the host moves the chashaku back to its original position with the right hand while the left hand slowly opens the fukusa.

7) Then the chashaku is rested on top of the fukusa again, and it is wiped with the fukusa one more time as in the beginning.

8) When the fukusa passes the far end of the chashaku this time, the host continues to extend the left arm until the edge of the fukusa clears the far end of the chashaku, and then moves the hand holding the fukusa down to rest on top of his left knee; then the chashaku is rested on top of the chaire, as below.


9) Finally, the fukusa is folded in half again and returned to the host’s futokoro.


¹The fushi [] is the node.  Most chashaku are carved so that a node is present near the middle of the stem.  In a properly carved chashaku, the node marks the chashaku's center of balance*.
*It thus indicates how the chashaku should be rested on top of the chaire:  the node is placed next to the tsumami (the little knob or “handle” in the center of the lid).  The weight on either side of the fushi being equal, the chashaku is now stable and will not fall off easily.

²Some modern schools argue (forcefully) that since the chashaku already clean*, this exercise is more for show† (and so the host should not really press the fukusa against the chashaku‡). 

     However, in Rikyū’s chanoyu, nothing is ever done “for show.”  The chashaku is physically purified by wiping it with the fukusa before the eyes of the guests to prove to them that it is indeed clean. 

◎ Purifying the utensils also purifies the host’s mind, but we should not fall into the error of saying that this is the sole purpose for acting as if we are cleaning things.
*The host would have cleaned it with a paper tissue in the mizuya before it was placed on top of the chawan.

†The Japanese expression for this sort of thing is katachi-dake [形だけ], which means “merely for form’s sake” — going through the motions (without really doing anything).

‡Their concern is because silk is slightly abrasive, and can cause wear-damage to an antique chashaku.  Thus they are worried about money rather than tea — modern chanoyu is primarily about antiques and their value, and secondarily about the delicious food served at the kaiseki; while the tea itself has become little more than an afterthought.

Modifications to the Previous Post.

Thanks to a note I received earlier this morning, I was made aware of the fact that a bit more explanation was needed, in terms of making the folding of the fukusa understandable for the true beginner.  I have, therefore, substantially reworked much of the material in the first wari-geiko post (Notes on the Practice of Chanoyu — a Short Introduction for People Without Access to a Teacher (6a - Wari-geiko 1: Folding the Fukusa)).  Beginners, especially, are asked to look at it again, since it may be more useful to you now.

     The second post, on using the folded fukusa to wipe the chaire and chashaku will be published later today.

     Thank you all for reading this blog, and an especial thanks to those who take the time to comment.  Please have a good week.

— Daniel M. Burkus


(Video 2)  Folding the fukusa.