Dear Followers and Readers,

     My computer is still very, very messed up.  It shuts down suddenly and without warning.  (Because of this I have lost both the C: drive, with my active data, and also the external hard drive on which all of my material was backed up.)  I am trying to resolve things, but it is proving exceptionally difficult, and I can not tell when that will be. 

     Sorry for the interruption of this blog.  I will write more when I am able to do so — the computer is shutting down after a couple of minutes and can not be restarted again for several hours or it crashes while loading Windows (7 Ultimate).

— Daniel M. Burkus


Good morning, Daniel. When counting utensils, it seems that sometimes the hishaku is counted separately from the shaku-tate and sometimes not, specifically nantsu-kazari vs. mitsu- and yotsu-kazari. Can you explain, please? - Elmar

Nanatsu-kazari¹ dates from the most ancient period.  It was the original way to distribute the utensils on the ji-ita of the daisu.

     Yotsu-kazari and mitsu-kazari appear to have been devised in Japan (as a result of a lack of access to a complete set of suitable utensils), and the naming was not necessarily done strictly in accordance with the thinking of the practitioners of the original style of tea².  

     Gokushin tea almost always uses nanatsu-kazari³; yotsu- and mitsu-kazari were the creation of the wabi practitioners.  This probably accounts for the different manner of counting (the wabi tea men having been separated from their gokushin roots by more than 2 or 3 generations by the time they were forced to emigrate to Japan).  Hence the two systems of counting did not really come into contact (and so, conflict) until the days of Rikyū.  This independence means that two different bodies of information built up during the century or so of their co-existence in Japan.

     Therefore, it is best not to try to rationalize things, or think too deeply about the significance.  They are just representatives of two different systems of thought, and should be accepted as such.

     I had to be brief — my big computer completely failed (maybe someone — with money and power — does not want this blog to continue?) towards the end of the week (I had the posts queued up until the one that went up a short while ago mentioning computer problems, which is how the posts could continue even after my ability to create them had ceased), and I am writing this on my old laptop (that I had to dig out of a box at the bottom of the stack of boxes that line one wall of my room).  It is almost impossible for me to see the text on this small monitor, and almost as difficult to type (my fingers are too big for the keys, and of course some keys are in different places). I am also trying to get over a bad bout of food poisoning (notice to the Readers:  do not buy cheese sandwiches at the convenience store in Sasang Exoress Bus Terminal in Busan:  often when I tried before, they took the sandwich away and said it was expired when I went to check out; Friday the clerk was apparently not being diligent).  All day Saturday was spent in heated tremors, and since last night…let’s just say I spent more time in the bathroom than in my bed.  Naturally early this morning a monk toddled by to ask me to evaluate off of the student monks (10 of whom I have never set eyes on), but not giving any under 90%…I asked him to dictate.

     Anyway, I hope this helps you, Elmar.  I have no idea how long it is going to take to resolve this computer mess, because it looks worse than I first imagined last week when I wrote the most recent post (the armature that supports the monitor.fell in half, and now only works when the monitor is lying face-downwards on the table; in any other position it goes 100% dead; and this laptop is clicking, which usually means that the hard drive is failing).  Anyway, please have a good week. 

— Daniel M. Burkus



¹Nanatsu-kazari:  the full formal display of the seven utensils on the ji-ita of the daisu.  According to Rikyū, the seven are:

1) furo,

2) kama,

3) mizusashi,

4) shaku-tate,

5) hishaku,

6) futaoki, and

7) koboshi.

²The hibashi tended to confuse the issue.  The reason they are not included in the count is that they are only put in the shaku-tate temporarily, and are never present when the host is actually serving tea (except when doing tea in the machi-shū manner — which is contrary to Rikyū’s specific instructions in this case).

³Or, when it does not, the deviations rarely agree with the wabi practitioners’ ideas of mitsu-kazari and yotsu-kazari.  Deviations always were sanctioned in gokushin tea to highlight specific utensils, and for no other reason. 

     Yotsu-kazari and mitsu-kazari are simply abbreviations; they do not call attention to anything beyond the goal of minimalism.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: III. The Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho (P. A Question for the Man who is Said to Understand the Way of Suki; and, Rikyū’s Concluding Remarks)

(1) If it is said that a certain person is an expert in the Way of Suki¹, then you should certainly ask him:  what is itsutsu-kazari? what is mutsu-kazari

     If he [really] does not understand³, his answer will be any one of a number of different things.

     But if he truly understands⁴ [the Way of Suki], he will reply:  itsutsu-kazari? mutsu-kazari? — there are no such things! 

     This has been the law since the most ancient times.


◎ What has been written [in this densho⁵] constitutes [the whole of] the secret teachings⁶ of the Way of Suki.  There is nothing else that can be added⁷.

◎ You must be careful not to disclose even a little of this information to assuage the curiosity of others.

Tenshō 9 / [The Year of] the Snake⁸, at the end of the Ninth Lunar Month⁹.


◉ When you are deciding about various matters based on your familiarity with what is written here¹¹, always — always — from here to the farthest point¹², never tell other people about even the tiniest fraction of these sōden¹³.


¹Suki [no] michi wo kiwametaru to iu hito [数奇道を極めたると云ふ人]:  literally, a person who is said to have reached the summit (or attained a perfect mastery or understanding) of the Way of Suki.

²Itsutsu-kazari…mutsu-kazari [五ツ餝…六ツ餝]:  a display of five or six objects (respectively).  Rikyū is proposing a test*.  In this densho we have learned about:

- nanatsu-kazari [七ツ餝]:  the display of a kama, furo, mizusashi, shaku-tatefutaoki, koboshi, and the hishaku on the ji-ita of the shin-daisu.  This is the full shin kazari†.

- yotsu-kazari [四ツ餝]:  the display of a kama-furo, mizusashi, shaku-tate, and koboshi (with the futaoki placed inside) on a naga-ita‡; and,

- mitsu-kazari [三ツ餝]:  the display of a kama-furo, mizusashi, and shaku-tate on a naga-ita;

- futatsu-kazari [二ツ餝]:  the display of a kama-furo (on a shiki-ita) and, beside it, a mizusashi (on the mat);

     So, what, then, are Itsutsu-kazari [五ツ餝] and mutsu-kazari [六ツ餝]?  This is Rikyū’s question.  How will the man who has mastered the Way of Suki respond?
*Because, in his opinion, one never finishes ones study of suki, hence it is impossible to attain a perfect mastery of the matter.

†In the olden days, the word kazari [餝] was used to refer to the arrangement of the utensils on the ji-ita of the daisu.  The reason for this was because they are displayed there throughout the gathering.

     The utensils displayed on the ten-ita were, as a group, referred to by the word kumi [組], which means “collected together,” because they are assembled variously throughout the gathering (the kōgō and habōki are placed there at the beginning of the sho-za; the chaire may be put in their place at the end; the chawan and chasen-oki possibly are added to the chaire at the beginning of the go-za; and a different object such as a naka-tsugi is placed there at the end).

     So while we generally refer to daisu-kazari to mean the entire display, this does not agree with the ancient usage.

‡Or, rarely, on the shin-daisu.  However, according to Rikyū, this should be the exception rather than the rule (as it seems to be today).

³Shiranu-sha [知らぬ者]:  someone who does not have an understanding of the matter.  In other words, irrespective of his reputation among his fellows, this person understands nothing about suki.  The machi-shū claimed to understand suki — and see how different* their way is from Rikyū’s.  They claimed to know all of the rules, yet (as one who has studied to what they claim is the highest level), I can say that this is an empty promise.

Shiritaru-sha [知りたる者]:  one whose understanding encompasses this matter fully.  He is — perhaps — someone who has truly entered upon the endless path.

⁵Rikyū’s actual words are:  migi no jō-jō suki-no-michi no hiden [右之條々数奇道の秘傳]:  the Lines to the right, these are the secret teachings of the Way of Suki.  Rikyū wrote on a long roll of paper, hence he is referring to the previous 15 or so entries in toto.

Hiden [秘傳]:  a secret teaching or tradition — the mysteries (of the Way of Suki) — handed down privately, from generation to generation, from each master to his most intimate and trusted disciples only.

Fu-zan shoki [不残書記], nothing more remains to be recorded; there is nothing else to write.  (Everything has already been written down here, and so there is nothing else to add.)

Tenshō 9, mi [天正九巳]:  1581.  Mi [巳] means (the Year of) the Snake.

Ku-gatsu Shita-ku [九月下句]:  the end of the Ninth Lunar Month.  Shita-ku [下句] means the last part (of a poem), the end.  Rikyū probably spent at least several days writing this densho, hence he does not assign to it a specific date.

¹⁰Sōeki [宗易]:  Rikyū’s personal name (as an adult).  Prior to receiving the (rankless) Buddhist title Rikyū-kōji [利休居士] by order of the Emperor Ōgimachi (in 1585), Rikyū signed all of his writings with the name Sōeki*.
*Consequently, any documents signed Rikyū dated before this point in time should be investigated carefully (and particularly with an eye to content — this was Suzuki Keiichi’s maxim).  While the name may indicate a forgery, this is not necessarily so — it may simply indicate a post-1585 copy of one of his authentic writings.  (After his death, any reference to Rikyū was distinctly to be avoided; and after the family had been reinstated under Shōan, people took pains to distance themselves, to the extent that Shōan and Sōtan preferred to copy Oribe’s practices wholesale — who remained in Hideyoshi’s good graces to the end — rather than hold fast to whatever they may have known of Rikyū’s actual teachings.  In this situation, there was little reason for people to attempt to forge documents, since the result likely would be a sound dose of trouble.) 

     Rikyū was nor really rehabilitated until many years after his death, when people who had studied under him (or his biological descendents, Sen no Dōan and the mother of Hisada Sōei being the most influential of these on subsequent chanoyu history) began to notice unreasonable deviations in the kind of tea being taught and practiced by Sōtan.  Of course, the Senke immediately began to resent this questioning of their authority by casting invective and aspersions on the rediscovered documents (while studying them fervently in secret, to make up for the sore lack of classical tea knowledge in their own databanks — Oribe only answered questions, after all, and gave away no secrets; and consequently, since the Senke were reading these things through the undiluted machi-shū teachings, they often arrived at interpretations diametrically opposed to what Rikyū had intended.)

     Note also that in some cases, however, earlier documents simply had the name Rikyū added after the fact (possibly even by Rikyū himself, as a sort of author’s autograph).  As in the Nambō-ate Densho, this can generally be ascertained by noting that the name Rikyū is not formatted in line with the rest of the closing, they way it should be.

¹¹That is, when doing chanoyu for your guests, laying your plans, or making your preparations.

¹²Oku [奥], the point farthest from here.  In other words, to the end of your life (which it was not good to say so directly in Japanese — one should not allude to the other person’s death).

¹³Sōden [相伝]:  the teachings inherited from previous generations.

     Rikyū, in this post-script, is admonishing Sōkaku to be vigilant:  should someone happen to inquire about why he is doing things in such and such a way, he must be careful not to let slip the source of his knowledge, even if he feels he needs to defend himself.

     The teachings recorded in this densho differed greatly from what the machi-shū were doing and saying, hence it was very likely that someone, at some point in time, would challenge Sōkaku about his “unorthodox” practices.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: III. The Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho (O. The Correct Placement of the Futaoki When Serving Tea to a Nobleman)

(1) When receiving a nobleman¹, the futaoki should be placed at the side of the irori² when its position is adjusted³.


¹The Japanese word for the visit of a Lord is o-nari [御成].

²This refers to the teaching on the placement of the futaoki (in the ro season) discussed at some length in the Three Hundred Lines of Chanoyu

     The futaoki can be placed either on the kagi-jō [鍵畳]* next to the ro, or on the utensil mat, near the host’s right knee.  In the following sketches, the circled letters refer to:  Ⓗ = the host’s seat; Ⓖ = the seat(s) occupied by the guest or guests; Ⓝ = the nijiri-guchi; Ⓚ= the kijin-guchi; and Ⓢ is the sadō-guchi (katte-guchi)†.


     The position of the futaoki determines the host’s orientation‡ toward the guests.  The host’s kane is indicated by the dashed red line.  Placing the futaoki on the utensil mat (as above) lowers his orientation toward the room (this is what was usually done in a daime room, and also in a 4.5 mat room when serving ordinary guests**). 


     When the futaoki is placed on the kagi-jō, (as shown in the second sketch, just above), however, the host’s kane is higher, toward the toko — and the seat immediately in front of the tokonoma.

     The reason the latter orientation is preferred here is because the nobleman will be seated either inside the tokonoma (if it is large enough to make this possible) as being the high seat of the room, or else immediately in front of it, as shown.
*Kagi-jō [鍵畳] refers specifically to the half-mat that is surrounded by four full-sized mats in a 4.5 mat room.  This is the mat in which the ro is usually cut.  By extension it is sometimes used as a general term to refer to the mat next to the utensil mat in which the ro is cut, regardless of that mat’s size or the overall arrangement of the room.

     Some people refer to this mat as the ro-datami [炉畳].

†For the benefit of persons who are less familiar with chanoyu and the tearoom:

- the nijiri-guchi [躙口] is the very low entrance for the use of ordinary guests (the verb nijiru [躙る] means to slide around on ones knees, and that is the only way in which anyone can pass through this extremely low doorway);

- the kijin-guchi [貴人口], sometimes pronounced kinnin-guchi by schools that want to be different from the rest, is a high, walk-in entrance for a nobleman (actually, the walk-in door was the original entrance to the tearoom:  according to Hisada Sōya, the Korean-style low entrance to the garden, originally intended to provide quick access to the toilet and hand-washing facilities, began to appear much later, only in the days of Jōō and Rikyū);

- the sadō-guchi [茶道口] or katte-guchi [勝手口] is the host’s entrance. 

     Technically, katte-guchi means a doorway that leads into the katte, a small room situated between the tearoom and the mizuya, in which the utensils were assembled prior to being carried into the tearoom:  it was originally made because the mizuya itself was situated on an open veranda, and the katte prevented blasts of cold air from blowing on the guests every time the host’s entrance was opened. 

     Sadō-guchi is a more modern name that just indicates the entrance for the person who will be making tea — it entered common use when the mizuya came to be fully enclosed by walls (this seems to have occurred during the first half century of the Edo period, when people like the retired Emperors began to take a fancy to chanoyu, and started doing all of the preparations by themselves:  fully enclosing the mizuya was done, it is said, to keep the Empror from catching cold, but probably was actually intended to screen him from sight when involved in such menial activities as washing the dishes) rendering the katte no longer necessary.

     The word sadō [茶道] itself is also fairly modern, being coined in the Edo period as a result of the influence of the recently introduced Korean neo-Confucianistic thought.  (This word should never be pronounced “cha-dō" — this pronunciation was introduced in the second half of the twentieth century, out of deference to what a certain tea master imagined were Western sensitivities:  he foolishly — and I believe ignorantly — supposed that foreign people would misinterpret the word sadō as being a reference to sado-masochism…something that perhaps only someone who thoroughly detests chanoyu could think of:  this was the same “master” who could not stomach a drink of koicha.)

     In the days of Shukō, Jōō, and Rikyū, the practice was always referred to as chanoyu [茶の湯], and should be so today.

‡In Japanese this is literally expressed as the kane on which the host sits.  When the futaoki is on the utensil mat, his kane passes through the ro, to the left of its middle; when the futaoki is placed on the kagi-jō, however, the host’s kane passes across the left front corner of the ro

     In both cases, the handle of the hishaku (when resting on the futaoki) lies parallel to the host’s kane.

**However, this teaching had been largely forgotten as tea came to be more and more the near-exclusive plaything of the daimyō class (which was where the Senke concentrated their efforts to the extent that they first ignored, and then forgot, everything else), and so nowadays even when using the daime most schools teach that the futaoki should be placed on the kagi-jō beside the ro, ignorant of the original way in which this kind of room was supposed to be used.

     It is a sad fact that with a thing like chanoyu, if something is not practiced regularly, it sooner or later either becomes wholly corrupted, or falls out of memory entirely (and this usually within the span of a single generation).  Chanoyu today is much less the thing that Jōō and Rikyū did, as what the daimyō and their retainers turned it into — for their own egotistical gratification and amusement.  Unfortunately, even though shōgun and daimyō are a thing of the past, as extinct as are the dinosaurs (though certain Iemoto seem to believe that they are modern-day daimyō, if not demi-gods), the modern method of training in tea perpetuates this mythology:  it may be impossible to ever return to the tea of the ancients until the corruption of the forms are refreshed and renewed to something more akin to what they were in the early days of chanoyu.

³In other words, when the futaoki is placed out on the mat at the beginning of the temae (whether it initially was displayed on the daisu or tana, or carried into the room in the koboshi). 

     The Japanese word used by Rikyū for this action is naosu [直す], which means to rectify or adjust its position — hence my translation.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: III. The Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho (N. Displaying the Daisu with the Irori, 2)

(1) When one is arranging the daisu¹ together with the irori, in a room where the katte is located on the [host’s] right, the mizusashi should be placed in the spot usually occupied by the kama², and the mizu-koboshi should be placed in the place originally occupied by the mizusashi.  The hishaku-tate should be located, as always, in the very middle³.

(2) When the katte is on the left, however, this [arrangement] should be reversed⁴.

(3) [Except for this,] there are no other special rules.


¹From the first, the daisu preferred for use with the irori was the kyū-dai daisu [及第臺子], shown below. 


     Unlike the shin-daisu, where both ten-ita and ji-ita are the same size, in the case of the kyū-dai daisu, the ten-ita is larger than the ji-ita

     The ten-ita is 2-shaku 9-sun 5-bu wide and 1-shaku 4-sun from front to back*; but the ji-ita is 2-shaku 7-sun 5-bu wide, and 1-shaku 3-sun from front to back.

     As a result, there is a space of 2-me on either side of the ji-ita†; and the host must understand that the ji-ita is now 5-bu farther away than in the case of the shin-daisu.  (In Rikyū’s day this was not a problem, because the chaire was placed on the line between the mizusashi and the kama, as always.

     But in the modern day, many schools (following what were originally machi-shū teachings) say that the chaire and chasen should be placed in front of the ji-ita of the daisu even in the ro season.  In this case, the host must remember to increase the distance between the chaire and the front edge of the kyū-dai daisu from 3-sun 5-bu to 4-sun in order to account for the added 5-bu which the ji-ita's reduced size makes available.

     Above is a sketch showing the ten-ita of the kyū-dai daisu (the dark blue crosshatched area apparently surrounding the ji-ita) with the ji-ita situated properly on the mat.
*For this reason, the kyū-dai daisu can only be used in a room covered with kyōma tatami.

†The ten-ita, however, like the large shin daisu, extends fully from heri to heri.

     This, by the way, is where the 2-me on either side rule comes from (that is used when positioning many other ō-tana — and has controlled the development of new portable shelves ever since).  Because of this precedent, the small shin-daisu (originally made to be used in a room spread with inakama mats) can also be used in a kyōma room.  The kyū-dai daisu is meibutsu for these reasons.

²That is, when the katte is on the right (and so the irori will be to the host’s left), the mizusashi should be moved to the left side of the daisu*, the place usually occupied by the kama-furo during the furo season.  This moves the mizusashi closer to the ro, which is the intention.  That the koboshi is now farther away is irrelevant, since it will be lowered to the mat during the temae in any case.

     As Rikyū stated in the Nambō-ate Densho, when the host comes in to begin the temae, the futaoki† is placed next to the ro, and the hishaku is removed from the shaku-tate and then rested on the futaoki.  These modifications are in keeping with the informal character of the arrangement.
*Rikyū is simply giving directions.  It is not relevant that a kama-furo is never supposed to be displayed on a daisu with two legs that is used with the ro (though the Senke have interpreted these kinds of comments as “proof” that Rikyū placed a kama-furo on the two-legged daisu — so that they can continue to do so, according to the machi-shu custom).

†The futaoki is usually placed inside of the koboshi, though it might also be displayed in front of the shaku-tate.  

³The easiest way to visualize this is by means of a sketch:


     When the utensils are of meibutsu size, and the shaku-tate is centered exactly between the mizusashi and the koboshi, it naturally rests in the middle of the ji-ita, as shown above.

⁴In a room where the katte is on the left (this is by far the most common orientation found today), the arrangement of the ji-ita (and subsequent distribution of the utensils during the temae) is like this:


     Note that in this setting, the positions of the chaire and chasen are reversed from what they were in a room where the katte was located on the right.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: III. The Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho (M. Chigai-dana [Fukuro-dana]¹)

Chigai-dana [違棚]²

(1) With respect to the chigai-dana, it is just the same as what has been mentioned previously³.  Virtually any sort of arrangement may be attempted without [giving a feeling of] discomfort⁴, you should understand.

(2) In the case [of the fukuro-dana], it is good to add the habōki [to whatever else the host arranges on the tana].

(3) We should remember that there are habōki made from right feathers⁵, and others that were made from left feathers⁶.

     Also, there is another kind of habōki made from [what are known as] tsubo-bane⁷, that are [larger on] neither the right nor the left.

◎ We must make sure that, whatever we do, we always place things out properly⁸.


¹While Rikyū uses the name chigai-dana*, he is actually referring to the ō-dana usually known as the fukuro-dana.  The reader should make note of this, so he or she may avoid confusion†.  It was for this reason that I added the word fukuro-dana to the title.  In my comments and glosses I will also use fukuro-dana rather than chigai-dana.
*To the best of my knowledge this is the only place in his various densho where Rikyū uses this word as a name for the fukuro-dana (the chigai-dana names a part of this tana, as will be noted under Rikyū’s sketch, below).  Since his comments are so brief, it is possible that this was the name with which Nomura Sōkaku was most familiar.

     Rikyū later presented Sōkaku with a second densho that details the conventions associated with the fukuro-dana (under its usual moniker).  Some commentators have expressed confusion as a result of the different names, and assume that Rikyū must be speaking about something else here (such as somehow actively including the arrangement of utensils displayed on the built-in chigai-dana in the temae).

     What these people apparently have not considered is that the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho was recopied (and it is the copy that was reviewed by Suzuki Keiichi and included in the Sen no Rikyū Zen-shu).  Here, as also in the case of the Nambō-ate Densho, several disparate and completely independent writings were combined into one, as if they were always intended to form interrelated parts of the same document.  This, however, is clearly not the case, and we should accept them as being both different, and having been written at different times, and perhaps under differing circumstances.

     Again, we must never loose sight of the fact that Rikyū was writing for a specific person, and when he deviates from what might be considered his standard vocabulary, it may be best to consider that he was perhaps doing so for the benefit of the recipient — that this is the word that the person for whom the densho was written was most familiar.

†The name chigai-dana [違棚] usually refers to a very different tana that may be found in the shoin.  This is the pair of staggered shelves situated either adjacent to the dashi-fu-zukue [出文机; now usually called the tsuke-shoin,付書院], or on one side of the tokonoma.

²Rikyū did not include a sketch with his comments — indeed, his comments themselves are truncated, almost perfunctory.  (In fact, he seems more concerned with the habōki than with the tana, though even in this case he lets slip no secrets*.  It appears that this curious lassitude of his prompted a reaction from Nomura Sōkaku, which resulted in a second densho that specifically addresses the particulars of the fukuro-dana in detail.  This writing will be considered later.  The sketch reproduced below has been extracted from that document, with some additional things added.)

     The parts of the fukuro-dana are shown below.  (The two shelves marked Ⓑ and Ⓒ are what are collectively referred to as the chigai-dana.)

*The modern reader and student of chanoyu probably does not realize that all of the material covered in the Hundred Poems of Chanoyu, the Three Hundred Lines of Chanoyu, the various Rikyū Densho, and the Nampō Roku, was considered to be hiden-mono [秘傳物] — secrets that were passed on only to ones acknowledged heirs — in the days of Jōō and Rikyū.  This was the material entrusted only to ones special disciples — thus if someone used a habōki made with right feathers with the ro, he indicated that he was not a party to these teachings (and if he was ignorant of one teaching, then it was probably also true that he did not know any of the others either).

     The refusal of people like Jōō and Rikyū to divulge this information freely was the great source of rancor between them and the machi-shū,  And it ultimately was this great well of ill-will that (deliberately or not) precipitated the revenge episodes predicated on Rikyū and his teachings when chanoyu passed into the control of the machi-shū at the hands of the Senke.

³In other words, the fukuro-dana may be used freely*, just as the arrangement of utensils on the daisu was quite uninhibited by classical precedent when it was used during the ro season.
*There are almost no restrictions on what may be displayed on it, and so the host is quite free to express his creativity. 

     Many, many different arrangements have been recorded in writings that date from the middle sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries.  In fact, the thing that is rarely encountered in the old kaiki is the reuse of the same arrangement either by a different host, or on a different occasion.

     The fukuro-dana was first used for tea by its creator, Shino Sōshin (who actually devised this tana for use at mon-kō [聞香] gatherings), and almost immediately it was adopted by Jōō — who clearly recognized its possibilities (one of Jōō’s claims to fame — indeed he made this his signature practice* — were his secret rules governing the arrangement of utensils both on Sōshin’s kiji fukuro-dana and on his variant, usually known as the Jōō fukuro-dana).

     This tana became so popular in that day that it appears that the daime-gamae was originally devised to house it, the way a similar enclosure housed large free-standing cupboards and storage chests in continental Korean homes during a slightly earlier period (according to Hisada Sōya, discussing the origin of the daime-gamae in his book Rikyū:  wabi-cha no sekai).

     Rikyū also had his hand in its evolution, replacing Sōshin’s hinged doors with a single wooden panel that lifts out so that the host may access the objects stored within the ji-fukuro without the impediment of a pair of doors getting in the way†.

     Because these developments occurred in succession, and yet were spaced out over several decades, it kept the fukuro-dana fresh in the minds of the tea men of the day, and this freshness was likely responsible for much of the impetus to constantly arrange things in an original manner‡.  (And since the ro was used only for about a third of the year, this brief span hardly allowed sufficient time for any one person to exhaust the possibilities, while leaving the chajin another eight months during which their untried ideas could continue to ferment until the next ro season arrived.)
*When Jōō handed on his mantle of leadership to Rikyū, he presented him with a piece of paper on which was written the poem “wa ga na wo ba Daikoku-an to iu nare-ba, fukuro-dana ni zo hiji ha komekeri" [我名をバ大黒庵といふなれば、袋棚にぞ秘事ハこめけり]:  "as for my name, if I may be called Daikoku-an, then it is in the fukuro-dana that I hide away my secrets.”  The presentation of this poem was his certification that the lamp had been handed on to the next generation.  So highly did Jōō regard an understanding of the use of this tana — it was nothing less than the secret of his style of chanoyu.

†This arrangement is much more practical for chanoyu, where the objects enclosed in the ji-fukuro are often considerably larger than the packets of kyara that were placed there during Sōshin’s incense gatherings.

‡The arrangements of objects on this this tana never had time to ossify into a collection of standardized forms, like the daisu and naga-ita — which had ceased to evolve even before Jōō’s birth.

Kurushi-garazu [苦しがらず].  Kurushi-garu [苦しがる] means to make (the guests) groan with displeasure, or suffer fits of perplexity, discomfort, or anxiety.  Zu [ず] negates this meaning, thus converting the word to mean that no matter what the arrangement might be, the guests have no standard or precedent that will lead them to question anything the host chooses to do (unlike so many other areas of chanoyu), thus everyone is free to simply enjoy themselves with the novelty of the situation.

U-ha [右羽]:  feathers from the right wing of a bird.  The half to the right of the rachis is wider.  Since the earliest days habōki made from such feathers were used with the furo.

Sa-ha [左羽]:  feathers taken from the left wing; they are wider on the left side of the rachis.  Habōki made from sa-ha are used with the ro.

Tsubo-bane [壷羽].  The feather takes its name from the fingerboard (neck) of a stringed instrument, such as a samisen.  In such instruments the strings are arranged down the middle of the neck, and spaced evenly, and so that there is an equal space in between, and on both sides of, the strings.

     This feather has its rachis in the exact middle of the feather:  it is the central tail feather of a bird, and each bird has only one tsubo-bane.

     Because each bird has only one central tail feather, a habōki made of tsubo-bane required the feathers from three different birds, and was consequently much more expensive (the perfection of the feathers can only be ascertained after the bird has been hunted and killed, and it sometimes required many kills before three feathers of identical size and width could be found).  For this reason, such habōki were used only to complement a meibutsu utensil (most commonly either the kōgō, or the chaire), and was not to be used at gatherings where such utensils were absent.

⁸A habōki made of right feathers should never be used with the fukuro-dana, because this tana can only be used with the ro.  (Right feather habōki are used with the furo.)

     As for the rest, we should be careful to place the habōki properly — the wider side of the left feather should overlap the kan, or kōgō, very slightly (hence it is always placed beyond the kōgō or kan, and inclined on a diagonal rather than being parallel to the sides of the shelf).

     The tsubo-bane, on the other hand, is placed parallel to the edge of the shelf (either in front of, behind, or to the side of the other object on the shelf).

     Additionally, the use of a tsubo-bane was usually restricted to gatherings in which a meibutsu utensil was being displayed on the tana.

A Question Regarding “Democracy [in the Tearoom]” and Chanoyu.

theteageek asked:

> As I read and reread the poems and the
> densho to date, I am struck by
> the prevalence of relative rank and
> hierarchy as an underlying theme to
> everything - shelf usage, arrangements,
> utensils, and people.  Would you
> care to comment on this hypothesis: the
> emphasis on equality in the tea
> room (everyone humbles themselves via
> the nijiri-guchi, etc.) arose first when
> Japan was forced open and the bakufu
> collapsed (Meiji Restoration) and then
> given final impetus with Japan’s loss of
> WW2 and the subsequent rejection of all
> things “inherently” Japanese?  The final
> nail in the old social structure of Tea
> Ceremony was likely the democratization
> forced by the pursuit of money by the
> modern Tea schools as well, no?
     Thank you for your question/comment, Elmar. 

     However, I do not think I can subscribe to your thesis.  Really, egalitarianism was always an important part of chanoyu, at least since the time when living persons began to take the place of the carved image of the Buddha as the entity being served a bowl of tea¹. There is an essential element of the “no-mind” (egoless) state that has been part of chanoyu from the beginning, in which host and guest are supposed to approach the exercise.  Ideally, at least, both host and guest are supposed to participate in a state of samadhi².  The host is the host, and the guest is the guest; but beyond this distinction which function makes necessary, they are equal.  This was the foundation of the offering of tea to other people — long before chanoyu was ever brought to Japan.

     But now looking at your statement “I am struck by the prevalence of relative rank and hierarchy as an underlying theme to everything - shelf usage, arrangements, utensils, and people […],” we have to put this into context before we can understand it.

     First, the entire situation is only intelligible if we accept that most of the people doing chanoyu in the days of Jōō and Rikyū were, by and large, expatriates who were in sore need of establishing themselves in their new situation³, if only so they could resume the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed in their former homeland.  (The people who were inclined to do chanoyu were mostly from the upper middle class and upper classes — even the early tea hermits and wabi recluses appear to have come from such antecedents, whether or not they chose to pursue the restoration of their fortunes in Japan.)  So they represent something quite different from people whose desperation is caused by a real lack of food and access to even the most rudimentary shelter (hence when people like Shukō are associated with things like the tomaya⁴, it should be understood as more of a poetic reference to that person’s mental-state or attitude, rather than to his actual physical condition:  Shukō had obviously been a man of considerable wealth and influence before he emigrated to Sakai, hence he could move comfortably — and not a little condescendingly — even in the company of a shōgun; the same can be said for Nōami, Zeami, and the rest of the dōbōshū [同朋衆] and their successors under other governments, whose instruction and attendance is always tinged with a faint patina of one “born to it” looking down on the upstart and usurper).

     Second, as I have said before, we must constantly bear in mind that Rikyū is always addressing his densho to a particular person, in a specific situation.  Most of them (especially those from the early period, before Rikyū became involved with Hideyoshi  — hence almost all of the densho dated prior to Tenshō 10 [天正十年]⁶) were written for tea men from Sakai, hence his fellow expatriates.  Thus the frequent references to the proper way to serve a nobleman are intended to instruct the recipient in these particular practices, so he can properly make his overtures to persons of political power, and thus advance his situation (and thereby the reputation of his master — Rikyū).

     Ever since chanoyu became the cherished hobby of Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435~1490; he reigned from 1449 to 1473, and devoted the final 26 years of his life to chanoyu), tea became a potential fast track to power and influence for those skilled in the practice.  From this time onward there was an unbelievably fierce competition going on among the different groups of tea men in Sakai (and to a lesser extent, those in Hakata — the men of Hakata came to prominence only when Hideyoshi began to turn his political attention to the continent, though even then the entrée to Hideyoshi’s presence and ear was still largely through chanoyu) for the opportunity to introduce the rulers of the day to “their” version of chanoyu — because a successful introduction meant that they could bring their ideas to influence the ruler (while first discretely limited to the details of chanoyu, soon enough it would be possible to progress beyond and influence matters of public policy — this is the same scenario that was acted out by Nōami, Zeami, Shukō, and ultimately the master-player of them all, Rikyū):  influence brought power, and power brought wealth⁵, and so the potential restoration of the fortunes of their house to something akin to what they had been before the Ming invasions of the Korean peninsula during the second half of the fifteenth century.

     Yet on what did this sort of entrée to the powerful hinge?  In the time of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, after the death of Jōō, three men were considered to be the top masters of chanoyu:  Tsuda Sōkyū, Imai Sōkyū, and Sen no Rikyū.  Tennojiya Sōkyū was apparently the oldest, and also a life-long friend of Rikyū’s, and so seems to have deferred to Rikyū in this ultimate contest for Hideyoshi’s ear⁷.  So the two contenders, Imai Sōkyū and Sen no Rikyū, were invited before Hideyoshi, and Hideyoshi asked them to explain to him how the dai-temmoku is used.  Sōkyū replied that it should be washed with the thumb at the beginning of the temae, and also at the end, because the most important thing is that the temmoku be clean, particularly when serving tea to a nobleman — thus the cleaning should be performed before the nobleman’s own eyes. 

     Rikyū answered this by saying that since the temmoku is already clean at the beginning of the temae (it having been thoroughly purified in the mizuya before it was even brought into the shoin), rubbing it with the thumb can not but defile it, therefore it should be cleaned with the thumb only after koicha has been drunk, to remove the stain left by the tea. 

     This apparently simple contradiction saw Rikyū raised to a position of greater and greater power, while Imai Sōkyū had to content himself with whatever influence he could wield over his followers in Sakai⁸ (and his hatred of Rikyū and his success would continue to fester to the end of his life).  It was not how much one knew, or how “right” or “wrong” were the particulars of the kind of chanoyu that one advocated, but only ones ability to express oneself convincingly.  Thus it has long been said that the man with a quick tongue is the one who knows how to drink tea⁹.

     Given the almost imperceptible differences between the ways in which the serving of tea was practiced, great emphasis had to be placed on these insignificant details if one hoped his “school¹⁰” would prevail (because even if it were not the teacher himself who succeeded in attaining a position of political significance, his influence and seniority over his disciples still remained intact, and so he would be in a position to influence the man who now found himself in a position of influence over the political leader).  But before any of this could be possible, the person or his school had to gain the ruler’s ear, and this is why so much detail is lavished on the means of doing this — for the man of tea.

     As for your suggestion that this perhaps represents a post-Edo (or post-WWII) phenomenon, all I can say is that you obviously have never seen how chaonyu functions in Japan¹¹!  The nitpicking over rank and position (particularly between two opposing phalanges of old women in their just-slightly-too-young-for-their-years kimono, defending the “prerogatives” of their teacher) is absolutely breathtaking in its terror!  There is a reason that the sword rack was placed as far away from the nijiri-guchi as it is; and even so, the rhetorical sword thrusts if someone of not quite equal rank plops down in the senior teacher’s seat are absolutely murderous!  If there ever was a time when democracy prevailed in the tearoom, it may have been in Rikyū’s day (or, even more likely, during the years when the tea world was looking to Jōō¹² for his blessings — or maybe we have to look even farther back in time, to Shukō and his expatriate friends, all equally the victims of the social leveling that a sudden and unanticipated exile necessarily imposes), but it definitely is not now!


¹From the first someone (at first, probably the person who prepared the tea*) always drank the tea after it was offered on the altar, so as not to waste it.

     But at a certain point in time things changed:  the tea was no longer offered to an enshrined image first†, but presented directly to the guest (perhaps this was rationalized on the basis of the argument that all people are inherently Buddha), and it was from this time that chanoyu as we know it really began.
*I.e., the person we would consider to be the “host” — though I am sure that at this time the monk performing the ritual did not so view himself.

†The correlate would have been placing the chawan in the toknoma before offering it to the shōkyaku.

²The Sanskrit word samadhi, which is transliterated as sanmai or sammai [三昧], is a mental state in which the conscious mind is detached from experience (in that the mind is no longer reflecting on experience — sensual input from extra-corporeal stimuli — immediately after the fact, as it usually does; this reflection is what gives us the feeling of self-awareness, and immediately interprets everything as good or bad or neutral).  There is the expression wa-kei-sei-jaku [和敬静寂] which, according to one interpretation (there are several levels of understanding of these four words, and this is perhaps the most basic), which refers to samadhi in situations like chanoyuWa [和], which originally meant self-sufficiency (“peacefulness” is the resulting feeling engendered by being completely self-sufficient) represents the samadhi of the host when performing temae; jaku [寂], which refers to the extinction of the ego, is the samadhi of the guest when seated on the guests’ mat.  Kei [敬], the attitude of “take what you need but no more” is what happens when wa penetrates into jaku, that is, the samadhi of the guest when he or she interacts with the host; sei [静]*, quietness, occurs when jaku permeates wa, hence the samadhi of the host when he interacts with the guest.
*Note that somehow sei [静], quietness, has become transmuted into sei [清], the purity (of flowing water), and then a deluge of nonsense has been mouthed by businessmen masquerading as tea masters who have no understanding of anything but money-money-money and how to get it.  I guess keeping the tearoom clean and orderly was more important than keeping it quiet (if things are clean, then there will be no doubt about the focus f attention;  while enforcing a rule of quietness would mean that one can not discuss the prices of tea utensils and negotiate a sale if one must refrain from speaking, after all — common practice in the tearooms of today).

³It would have been unthinkable for a Japanese native to even attempt to achieve some sort of influence over the effective head of state in this way (the closest parallel would be when a young person was taken as a lover*).  Furthermore, the shogun were always afraid of surrounding themselves by Japanese nationals, especially ones who appeared quite suddenly, because (as I have mentioned before in this blog) anyone who was cleaver enough to manage to catch the ruler’s ear (when not born and raised to that station), would also potentially have the cleverness to usurp the ruler’s position, given the least opportunity to do so.  This would have been impossible with a foreigner, hence they were welcomed (if the ruler felt he could benefit by this association).
*But such people, whether male or female, were more often discounted as playthings of the moment, than taken seriously — if only because of their youth and lack of political experience, and usually inferior social status as well.

     The people vying for influence through chanoyu were not only mature men, but men who were well educated, cultured, and possessed an air of social and political awareness that would make them suitable candidates for the role of adviser.  And their foreignness meant that they could never be a political danger in and of themselves; and their lack of affiliations among the Japanese meant that they were unlikely to ever be acting in the interests of someone else.  Their sole goal was establishing themselves and their family comfortably in Japan, and they were accepted on those terms.

Tomaya [苫屋]:  from the kanji, originally, a shaman’s/fortune-teller’s booth.  It was hardly an enclosure designed to protect the occupants from the elements, rather to give them a sense of privacy from the public setting (usually a marketplace) in which the booth had been erected.  A bamboo frame made by pounding four bamboo poles into the ground and attaching four cross-pieces across the top was then covered by roughly hand-woven reed mats (think, place-mats woven from palm leaflets, but of a much larger size), one on each side and a fifth to form a sort of roof (or sun-shade).

     In Japan, apparently from time immemorial, a similar construction was occasionally used by the poorest of the poor for some slight degree of protection from the elements during the coldest months, and so the name of the shaman’s booth was borrowed and applied to these kinds of structures as well.  The word, derived from Fujiwara no Sadaie’s well-known poem*, was used to describe of the wabi chanoyu of Shukō by the author (or a subsequent contributor or editor†) of the Three Hundred Lines of Chanoyu (and thence it became part of tea culture in Japan).
*Mi-watase-ba hana mo momiji mo nakari-kere; ura no tomaya no aki no yū-gure [見渡せば花も紅葉もなかりけれ、浦の苫屋の秋の夕暮れ].  See the Three Hundred Lines of Chanoyu, Line 300, for more on this poem.

†The commentator on the Three Hundred Lines, Uesugi Kenshin (one of the principal disciples of Jōō) said that Jōō wrote this document, while Jōō himself stated that the document had been passed down from Shukō.  Since the last line addresses the notable characteristics of the chanoyu of both Shukō and Jōō from the point of view of an analytical observer, it can safely be concluded that at least some of the entries should be ascribed to other hands.  (On the other hand, it is also possible to interpret Kenshin’s remark to mean that the copy of the Three Hundred Lines at his disposal had literally been transcribed by Jōō; however, other of his remarks suggest that Kenshin believed that many of the ideas contained in the Lines were clearly a product of Jōō’s deliberations and methods.)

⁵Not just benefices received from the government.  As has been stated by many authors, Hideyoshi taxed no one, yet everyone contributed voluntarily, and this also applied to the members of Hideyoshi’s court.  When Rikyū was involved in any sort of transaction, such as acting as the go-between in the purchase of a chaire, after the deal was concluded, both parties gave Rikyū a thank-gift (as was the custom, regardless of whom the go-between was); but the value of the thank-gift was directly commensurate to Rikyū’s position (without his having to resort to anything so vulgar as naming a fee).


⁷Tsuda Sōkyū’s personal relationship with Akechi Mitsuhide (albeit while Nobunaga was alive, and Mitsuhide was still one of his prominent generals) also likely made it impossible for him to aspire to any sort of political position* under Hideyoshi.
*While Hideyoshi did in fact retain his services, it was only in the capacity of sa-tō [茶頭], a “commander” or overseer of the staff of the Lord’s tearooms (the same post Sōkyū had held under Nobunaga).  But advancement beyond this largely ceremonial post would prove impossible (the Tennōjjiya was a very successful commercial enterprise, so a government income was not necessary for his life or comfort), and Sōkyū died (perhaps of old age) not long after the initial advancement of troops onto the Korean Peninsula in 1592.

⁸Of course Imai Sōkyū retained his post of sa-tō [茶頭], but this largely ceremonial position only required his attendance at Hideyoshi’s court every third month (and since matcha was routinely ground every day, and the rooms and other preparations always made ready in case the Lord suddenly felt a desire for chanoyu, there was really little that the sa-tō had to do — other than “be responsible” for the work that all of the other members of his staff were doing).

     Rikyū, on the other hand, was in constant attendance on Hideyoshi, and came to be delegated more and more responsibility and power (for things unconnected with chanoyu) as time went by.

⁹The comment is said to have been made by Jōō, when he was first told about the young Yojirō (the youth who would later become widely known as Sen no Sōeki, and then Rikyū-kōji) by Kitamuki Dōchin.

¹⁰I hesitate to use the word, because it is really anachronistic:  there were no schools of tea, in the modern sense, during this period — schools (like the three Senke) came into existence during the Edo period, in part a result of the introduction of Korean neo-Confucianistic attitudes that began to appear in the country after the change of government.

     What existed in the days of Jōō and Rikyū might better be described as “tea clubs” congregating around a leader who was also (usually) the teacher of the group.  Though the degree of control was limited — more than “giving lessons” the way tea is taught today, the function of the master was as a brickbat against which the followers tested their own ideas (thus we see many instances where Rikyū not only deferred to the sakui of competent and well-trained people like Oribe, who was one of Rikyū’s followers or disciples, but often incorporated their ideas into his own temae and manner of teaching as well:  this kind of thing is typical of the period — we have only to look back half a generation to the interactions between Jōō and Rikyū to see just how flexible the master-disciple relationship truly was — though such would have been scandalous in a neo-Confucian setting).

¹¹And (for the benefit of the other readers) I should mention that, indeed, Elmar has (happily) not been involved with the tea world in Japan, hence his idealistic innocence can be excused with a kindly (albeit knowing) smile.

¹²Jōō seems to have associated with people of all social classes, from the high court nobles to everyday townsmen (given his intimate knowledge of the details of their life and living quarters) on terms that appear (at least to us) to have been very close to a true sense of true social equality; and since he was apparently apolitical, he never muddied the waters the way Rikyū did from time to time.  When Jōō died, he was apparently well and sincerely mourned.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: III. The Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho (L. Displaying the Daisu with the Irori, 1)

Irori ni Daisu wo Kazari-awase [圍爐裏に臺子を飾り合せ]¹

(1) The [草] rank refers to [the situation where] the daisu is displayed [during the season] when the irori [is being used]². 

(2) When we speak of [the use of the daisu with the irori], there are no special secrets³ that need to be studied⁴.

(3) You may do just about anything — futatsu-kazari [二ツ餝]⁵, mitsu-kazari [三ツ餝]⁶, yotsu-kazari [四ツ餝]⁷, any of these may be used when grouping the utensils together [on the ji-ita]:  there are no special rules that dictate what utensils may (or may not) be used⁸.

(4) Above [on the ten-ita], also, one is free to group the utensils as one pleases, [including arrangements such as] futatsu-gumi [二ツ組]⁹. mitsu-gumi [三ツ組]¹⁰, and yotsu-gumi [四ツ組]¹¹.

(5) Perhaps when we total up the objects displayed above and below, we will find that it is even possible to do nanatsu-kazari [七ツ餝] when the daisu is displayed with the irori¹².

     All of [your] secrets can be [tried out in this setting]:  this is the secret!¹³


¹Irori ni daisu wo kazari-awase [圍爐裏に臺子を飾り合せ]:  literally, “with the irori, the daisu is displayed simultaneously.”

     With the irori, the daisu should be of the ni-hon-bashira [二本柱] type — a daisu with two legs such as the kyū-dai daisu [及第臺子] — and not the shin-daisu*. 

     According to the Nampō Roku, the only tana-mono with four legs that may be used in the tearoom is the shin-daisu.  All other ō-dana [大棚]† and mizusashi-dana [水指棚]‡ should have only two legs.  (The smaller tana-mono with four legs, such as the Jōō mizusashi-dana [紹鷗水指棚] and Rikyō’s kiji san-jū-dana [木地三重棚]**, were used in the katte, to hold the utensils in readiness for being carried into the tearoom.  Such tana came to be used in the tearoom only from the Edo period onward.)
*The kiji take-daisu [木地竹臺子] with four legs is a variant on the shin-daisu.  It should be used with the furo.

Ō-dana [大棚]:  tana that are (or are nearly) the full width of a mat.  The various daisu, the kiji fukuro-dana [木地袋棚], and the Jōō-fukuro-dana [紹鷗袋棚] are examples of ō-dana.

Mizusashi-dana [水指棚]:  a tana-mono that is less than half as wide as a mat.  These tana are sometimes known as ko-dana [小棚] — in contrast to the ō-dana.  Rikyū’s round or maru kyū-dai [丸休台] (now known as the maru-joku [丸卓]) and his square hō kyū-dai [方休台] (popularly called the shi-ho-dana [四方棚] or yo-hō-dana today) are classical examples of the mizusashi-dana that were designed to be used in the tearoom.

**The three-shelved progenitor of the popular black-and-red lacquered two-shelved kōkō-dana [更好棚].

²This refers to the situation where, in a shoin or similar room, the daisu is used during the regular season of the ro.  (It does not refer to cases where the irori is used all year round.)  Thus it is , in contrast to the shin (daisu with the nanatsu-kazari) or gyō (the naga-ita with furo no yotsu-kazari or mitsu-kazari) nature of the kazari that was used during the rest of the year.

     We should recall that in Rikyū’s period, the furo was used for about seven months of the year (from the Third Lunar Month to the Ninth Lunar Month*) , and the irori for only four months (the Tenth Lunar Month to the end of the Second Lunar Month).  Thus the year was more or less balanced between shin, gyō‡, and .
*Roughly April to the first or second week of November.

†November to the end of March in the Solar year.

‡While there was certainly nothing like a set rule, the tendency was to use the daisu at the beginning of the furo season, the naga-ita during the rainy season, the daisu during the period surrounding the o-Bon festival (the middle of the Eighth Lunar month), and the naga-ita during the furo-no-nagori period.

³Hiji [秘事]:  secrets.

⁴The word narau [習う] means much more than simply “study,” “learn,” “practice,” or the several other words with which it is usually translated into English.  The Japanese word actually means to study something until it is thoroughly internalized, until it is so familiar that it becomes a habit.  This is the depth to which one must learn things if one hopes to master chanoyu — because only then, when your knowledge held is at this almost subconscious level, will you be able to spontaneously bring forth a response to meet any challenge that might suddenly arise, without confusion or having to stop and think.

Futatsu-kazari [二ツ餝]:  usually the mizusashi and the shaku-tate.

Mitsu-kazari [三ツ餝]:  the mizusashi, shaku-tate, and koboshi (with the futaoki placed inside the koboshi); or the mizusashi, shaku-tate, and futaoki.

Yotsu-kazari [四ツ餝]:  the mizusashi, shaku-tate, futaoki, and koboshi.

⁸In addition to these situations where several utensils are grouped together, there is also the possibility that the chaire — or bon-chaire — may be displayed on the ten-ita alone.  (Grammatically, there can be no such thing as “hitotsu-gumi" [一ツ組], thus the lack of a special name for this kind of arrangement, or its inclusion in Rikyū’s list of gumi-awase).

Futatsu-gumi [二ツ組]:  the dai-temmoku (or other bowl used as the omo-chawan) and the chaire.

¹⁰Mitsu-gumi [三ツ組]:  the dai-temmoku, chaire, and chasen-oki.

¹¹Yotsu-gumi [四ツ組]:  what is also known as midare-kazari [乱れ餝] — the dai-temmoku, chaire, chasen, and chashaku, dispersed around the ten-ita.

¹²Since technically the classical definition of nanatsu-kazari always includes the furo, doing nanatsu-kazari with the irori must be impossible!

     This statement (or, rather, the idea behind it) is probably the source of the endless confusion over what nanatsu-kazari [七ツ餝] really means.

     As was mentioned earlier, most writers from Rikyū’s period appear to be of the opinion that the word nanatsu-kazari is related to the total complement of utensils necessary to serve a bowl of tea, with all of them being displayed on the daisu simultaneously (thus requiring nothing to be brought in at the beginning, and nothing to be taken away at the end).

     Nanatsu-kazari, in this case, might be something like the four kaigu that are used with the irori (mizusashi, shaku-tate, futaoki, and koboshi) on the ji-ita, plus an arrangement of three utensils (the chaire, dai-temmoku, and chasen-oki) on the ten-ita.

¹³Ka[h]i-ka[h]i, gokui ya  [可祕可祕、極意也。]:  “what secrets! what secrets!:  this is the secret!”  Rikyū is, of course, using outrageously expansive language to emphasize that one really is free to do just about anything in this setting.

Regarding your post regarding moving the chawan from the dai-tenmoku stand to the floor, you state "Modern utensils - especially those made to be used for koicha... are much larger than the original bowls that were used in this way." Can you please discuss chawan selection, especially with regard to more 'wabi tea'? It would seem that smaller, smoother texture bowls would make it easier to enjoy more of the koicha than larger, rougher texture bowls which would 'hold' more of the thick tea. Thnx

Thank you for your question, Mark.  (Mark actually wrote a longer letter, and I asked him to put his question here — not knowing that there is such a small a character limit on questions asked through the ask box  his entire letter follows:  “Regarding your last post answering the             > question of moving the chawan
> from the dai-temmoku stand to the floor,
> you stated: ‘Modern utensils — especially
> those made to be used for koicha (dai-
> temmoku is a koicha temae, as I am sure
> you are well aware) — are much larger
> than the original bowls that were used in
> this way.’
>     “It got me thinking about selecting
> chawan for koicha (especially when it is
> made for one guest - or oneself).  Is my
> thinking correct that it stands to reason
> that the selection of the chawan should be
> carefully considered not only in the
> making of koicha (temperature and ability
> to knead properly), but also in the ability
> to drink it and enjoy the tea properly?  It
> would seem that smaller and smoother
> texture bowls would make it easier to
> enjoy more of the koicha as opposed to
> larger and rougher texture which would
> ‘hold’ more of the thicker liquid in the
> bottom and sides of the bowl?  It seems
> like such a simple concept, yet one that
> didn’t hit me until you mentioned that
> modern bowls tend to be larger and I
> began to think about the consistency and
> small amount of koicha usually in a bowl
> serving only one.  No reason to waste
> good koicha and have it relegated to
> cha-no-ato simply because so much
> stayed in the bowl!  I guess my question
> comes more into play during more ‘wabi’
> chanoyu when temmoku is not the choice
> of chawan.” 

     Ok, first of all, people nowadays generally do not like koicha.  If you do not like koicha¹, then it is not very likely that you will be able to make good koicha.  This is probably the beginning of the problem.

     Koicha should of course be thicker than usucha, but not as thick as something like Elmer’s glue!  (And in Japan it is frequently made that thick — especially at things like the Iemoto's Hatsu-gama².)  As the saying goes, “as above, so below” — if that is how the top people are making it, then that is how the people below do it, too. 

     When the tea is finished being drunk, there should be a film of tea in the bowl, but it should not be like cake batter, that needs a rubber spatula to scrape off.  Let’s think of milkshakes.  If it is thick enough to “stand up to a straw” then it is much too thick.  The straw should flop to the side pretty fast, yet more slowly than it would if the bowl contained usucha.  Once you have the consistency right, then you can think about the chawan.

     Historically speaking, the original koicha-chawan were things like temmoku bowls and Kenzan bowls³.  These are high-fired stoneware, and so have a generally smooth glaze surface.  Nevertheless, the koicha should be thick enough to cling to the inside of the bowl thickly enough that the glaze can not be seen through the tea.  If you can see the glaze, the tea is too thin for koicha.

     In the wabi setting, the original bowls used as omo-chawan — the bowl in which koicha is served — were the big ido bowls and things like the Shukō chawan (these bowls are around 6” in diameter) that formerly had been used as kae-chawan when tea was served in the shoin room.  Nevertheless, the practice was still to serve each guest individually.  Therefore, though a large bowl was used, only a single portion of tea was usually made in it⁴. 

     Even in Jōō’s day (Shukō died in 1502, and Jōō was born the same year and died in 1555, so his active period was during the several decades before the middle of the sixteenth century) the custom of serving single portions of koicha persisted — Jōō’s koboshi [= kensui⁵] was huge:   7-sun (8.5”) across the mouth, 4-sun (4.75”) across the bottom, and 3-sun 5-bu (4”) deep.   Around this time, some of the machi-shū started to save tune by making all of the koicha at one time and having the guests pass the bowl around (in a mistaken imitation of what Shukō had done⁶); this abbreviation was one of the things that precipitated the rift between Jōō and the machi-shū.

     Only with Rikyū did the host begin to double up the lower guests, though the shōkyaku was still served an individual portion of koicha⁷.  If the host was using two bowls to serve three guests, then the larger bowl (usually one of the ido bowls that had been brought to Japan in the fifteenth century — the Shukō-chawan , the other renowned kae-chawan from the early period, was lost in the fire at the Honnō-ji when Nobunaga committed seppuku) was used to serve the single portion to the shōkyaku, and the smaller bowl (usually a red raku bowl in Rikyū’s case⁸) was sometimes used to make the double portion of tea for the second and third guests to share⁹.

     Towards the end of his life, he began to change.  More and more (according to the records of his gatherings in the last years) he started to use a red bowl when serving koicha in the small room (the occasions when he used a black bowl for koicha are most noteworthy because of their infrequency).

     Smoother bowls are generally better.  The roughness of the glaze of black raku bowls possibly is why Rikyū did not used them very often for koicha¹⁰.  (In addition to the amount of tea that would cling to the rough glaze, the tea also infiltrated into the pock marks in the glaze surface and was difficult or impossible to clean:  this meant that many black bowls were intrinsically dirty after their first use, another thing that Rikyū would have frowned upon.  This may explain why he did not use many of these bowls more than once, and then passed them on to other people)

     Since the stewardship over chanoyu fell into Sōtan’s hands, of course, machi-shū practices came to predominate¹¹ (and then eclipse the teachings and doings of Rikyū altogether), and this — coupled with a generally greater availability of tea suitable for koicha (HIdeyoshi’s great legacy) — meant that both the size of the individual portion increased¹², and one large bowl of koicha was passed from hand to hand, to serve all of the guests.  (One reason was the shifting emphasis of the gathering:  at first, since Jōō created the chakai, a gathering for tea was focused on drinking tea¹³.  Now, it was about enjoying rich food and appreciating rare and expensive utensils, and so the service of koicha was thus done as quickly and in as perfunctory a manner as possible — to get it over and done with so everyone could move on to something more interesting.)

     So, Mark, to answer your question, you first have to decide what your priorities are.  If you are serving a single guest or single portion of koicha, then you should use a bowl that allows you to do so in such a way that the tea, when the guest gets it, is hot and without foam or lumps.  If you are not experienced at making koicha, then a smaller bowl might be best (an ordinary raku bowl would be ideal, since that is what they were made for).  Later on, as you gain confidence, and can make good koicha consistently, then you can try using a larger bowl, if you have one (and it is appropriate¹⁴).  While doing chanoyu in a heated Western house in winter is less problematic, in winter you can still try using the deeper tsutsu bowls (they keep the koicha really hot, but you have to be careful because the restriction on using the chasen freely means it is easier for lumps of tea to lurk in the corners). 

     As for the style of bowl, garishly painted bowls are best avoided, period; and in the old days the acid test was whether the bowl was suitable for serving koicha (if not, it should not be used, even for usucha¹⁵).  But anything that you like, whether Japanese or Asian, or made locally, and that is of a color that does not make the koicha look bad (blue bowls or the bluish celadons make the koicha look yellowish — which is the color tea turns when it is going bad, so you have to be careful) is fine.  Originally temmoku bowls were used, which are mostly dark brown or black (but the preference had more to do with not looking dirty after being used many times to serve tea, than that black or brown are especially good colors to use when drinking matcha).  But Jōō, on the other hand, preferred white bowls, and others were using yellow Seto bowls (which ranged in color from ocher-yellow to a deep honey color); Korean bowls are dull pink to pink tinged with ocher, to green or blue tinted gray; mishima bowls have a gray ground and whirls or stamped patterns in white (and sometimes black).  The Ninsei and other bowls made in Kyōto were also made for koicha, too (albeit for court ladies to use — and used only one time, since they tend to stain easily), and while the pictures are often overwhelming, the bowls themselves allow the host to make good koicha quite easily.  So, it really is up to you and your taste in tea things. 

     In conclusion, when you are first learning to make koicha, always use bowls that make this task as easy as possible (and also limit the number of portions to one or two); and after you gain experience, then you are free to use any bowl that will complement the rest of your tori-awase.  Just remember that the tori-awase starts as the sum of its parts, and no single utensil should stand out so much that it makes the other things look mediocre or bad.  The arrangement should be balanced, and should reflect your sense of creativity.  It is like making a painting, and the utensils are the paints and colors.

     I hope this helps….

— Daniel M. Burkus



¹It is an acquired taste, so the only way most people come to like it is by drinking it as often as possible.

²A certain Iemoto I knew literally became nauseous if he was cornered into drinking koicha.  In such a situation, even if the mechanics are worked out for him — even if the tea is super-sweet and has been sifted three or four times, and he knows that  dumping out the contents of this chaire into the big bowl plus this much water… — there is little hope for a good bowl of koicha as the result.  (In which case, it was generally better to be farther down the line, so you got to drink from one of the bowls of koicha brought out from the mizuya — where the pressure was off, and much better tea was the result.)

³The ō-meibutsu Kazan-temmoku [花山天目], which was considered the perfect bowl for making koicha, was 3-sun 8-bu in diameter and 2-sun deep (on the inside), and shaped like half of a grapefruit.  These bowls were placed on a temmoku-dai that was more like a high-footed saucer.

     The old Kenzan [建盞] bowls (which were originally not considered to be temmoku), which were made as Chinese sake-cups*, were around 4-sun across the mouth and much more conical (shaped like a flattened “V”), made to fit into those dai shaped like modern temmoku-dai (with a large and deep hōzuki).

     Both can be used to make good koicha, since both allow the host free use of the chasen.  Since Kenzan bowls were by far the more common, Seto-temmoku chawan (which were made in both small and large sizes) usually imitated their shape.
*Chan (Chinese) or san [盞] means a “wine-saucer” (since the wine — sake — was heated to fortify the alcohol, the shape of this kind of vessel allowed it to cool a little so it would not burn the drinker’s mouth).  Later temmoku-shaped bowls were ordered from the kilns in Fuchien during the Edo period, hence the modern confusion between these two kinds of bowls.

⁴Shukō’s act of sui-cha [吸い茶] (which the modern schools, following Kanamori Sōwa, claim was the origin of the practice of passing a single bowl of koicha around with the guests sharing the contents) was not something he did regularly.  This was on the occasion of the anniversary of his teacher’s death, and the assembly consisted of the other disciples of that teacher who were now living in Japan.  In accordance with custom, Shukō made a single portion of koicha in a bowl (probably either a temmoku on an especially high dai, or an ido chawan with a high foot, since these were the ritual implements used when offering tea to the dead) and offered it to his teacher’s memory — maybe he had a funerary tablet set up in the tokonoma, maybe a scroll of the teacher’s calligraphy (the details are not clear), but some sort of memento of the teacher was in the tokonoma, and the chawan was placed before it, just the way that a chawan is placed before a guest by the host’s assistant.  Then after offering the bowl, and probably the assembly changing a prayer for the teacher’s happy rebirth, the bowl was spontaneously taken out of the tokonoma and passed around, and everyone present touched their lips to the tea (a single portion of now-cold tea would not allow even five people one sip — and in all likelihood there were probably more than five people in the room).  Then the host (Shukō) put in some more hot water and drank what was left himself.

Koboshi, or mizu-koboshi [水飜 or 水翻] is the original name.  It was also sometimes written mizu-koboshi [水建]; and this compound was later inverted during the Edo period (by people who did not recognize what was being written) into kensui [建水], which appears more grammatically correct.

⁶This story of Shukō’s sui-cha was supposedly related to the machi-shū by Jōō, and so they started saying that Jōō had encouraged the practice, which made him very angry (since it violated his sense of propriety and decorum — with his large kama, taking an hour and half to boil,  one thing that Jōō was not was overly concerned about saving time).

⁷It appears that Rikyū only began doing this after Hideyoshi became a frequent guest — and the reason was to keep the Taikō from waiting too long before he was served usucha*.  Hideyoshi then began to imitate the practice because it shortened the service of tea when he was acting as host†.
*Nevertheless, it was necessary for the gathering to include one or two other guests, so that Hideyoshi was not unattended (or felt lonely during the periods when he would otherwise have been alone in the tearoom).

†In his Yamazato-maru and the Golden Tearoom.  Almost all of the gatherings held in these rooms were political in nature, and abbreviating the service of tea (the accompanying guests were generally retainers of either Hideyoshi or the shōkyaku) allowed the participants to settle down to their discussion once the mood of intimacy had been established.  Thus they were very different from ordinary chanoyu gatherings.

     Naturally when Hideyoshi served tea to the Emperor, he did things as fully as possible.

⁸ Rikyū said that only a red bowl should be used when serving koicha in the small room.  Black bowls were restricted (by him) to rooms 4.5 mats in size and larger, but in this setting Rikyū himself generally preferred to use a dai-temmoku as the omo-chawan, so the black bowl was either used as the kae-chawan during the koicha-temae (to clean the chasen, and possibly to serve the lower guests), or to serve usucha afterward.  The exact opposite of what we are taught today!

⁹Later generations put forth various explanations for this behavior, most of which (things like contrast — a small portion in a large bowl, a large portion in a small bowl) were foolish in the extreme.

     The reason was that the large bowl was the kae-chawan from the old shoin service, and so by far the better bowl than a newly-made piece (such as a raku-chawan).  The better utensil should always be used to serve the shōkyaku.  If something inferior will be used, then it must be used for the lower guests.

¹⁰It must be remembered, too, that there was great variation from bowl to bowl in this early period (since the mechanics of Oribe’s hiki-dashi technique when applied to raku-yaki were still being worked out by Chōjirō for most of Rikyū’s remaining years:  some bowls like the Tōyōbō [東洋坊] were quite smooth and glossy, and so suited to serving thick tea; others had a very rough surface that made them much less suitable for koicha), hence perhaps his preference for red bowls when serving koicha, since they were much more uniform and regular in their surface texture.

¹¹This included a rather odd fondness for dirty utensils!  It was from this period that the preference for black bowls when serving koicha began — the argument being that the infiltration of the glaze by the tea removed the taste of clay from the bowl, and made the taste of the tea more apparent.  Contrast this with the original attitude that once the crackles in a bowl started to become stained with tea, it was no longer considered suitable for use in chanoyu.  (One reason why temmoku and Kenzan bowls were preferred was because they are black or dark brown, and their glazes tend to have few or no crackles, hence places into which the taste and smell of the tea could infiltrate).

¹²The little measuring cup that comes with a tea sifter originally was the amount of tea needed for one person — one portion of koicha, plus two bowls of usucha; but by the Edo period, the contents of one measuring cup were being used for one portion of koicha, with usucha served from a different container of tea (that was filled fully, regardless of the number of guests that would be served) and so removed from the host’s preparatory calculations.

¹³Even the kaiseki was included to give the guests something to do while waiting for the kama to boil (Jōō preferred to start his chakai with a cold kama, arrange the fire, and then host and guests would wait patiently while the water came to a boil).
*Like his koboshi, Jōō’s kama tended to be very large (the idea being to assure the guests that the host would not run out of hot water no matter how much tea they drank, a sign of his hospitality) — his ro-gama held in excess of 15 mizuya-bishaku of water (compared with around 9 mizuya-bishaku for modern, Rikyū-style ro-gama, 5  or 6 mizuya-bishaku of water for the average furo-gama, and 3 for Rikyū’s small unryū-gama).

     Jōō’s ro-gama took an hour and a half to come to a boil, thus he often included both the appreciation of incense and the service of food during the sho-za of his gatherings.

¹⁴In chanoyu, you should always do something because it is somehow “right” for the occasion.  Even back in the days when most people only had a single set of tea utensils, they assembled their set carefully, so that the utensils would be appropriate when used together.  In the modern day it is usually considered better to use different utensils throughout the year, and so in addition to considering how the utensils combine with each other, the host must also be sensitive to how appropriate the utensils he uses are to the season of the year and the temperature on the day of the gathering.

¹⁵This also differs from modern practice.  Originally koicha was the important thing, and so the utensils used for usucha were of the  same type.  Now, the merchants, in cahoots with the tea schools, have made a big business out of bowls appropriate for usucha, as opposed to koicha, so now they are considered to be completely different things.  Nevertheless, a koicha-chawan should be suitable to use when serving either kind of tea.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: III. The Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho (K. Futatsu-kazari)

Futatsu-kazari [二ツ餝]


[Rikyū’s sketch.  The writing reads (from the right) mizusashi (水さし); furo-kama (風炉・釜)]¹

(1)  Jōō-Rō held that the naga-ita should not be used for futatsu-kazari [二ツ餝].  This is because the regular naga-ita is so large that to display only two objects on it does not look good — they are out of proportion to the setting².

(2) As a result of his feeling of discomfort, Jōō was inspired to cut an ordinary naga-ita in two³, with just the furo placed on it, and the mizusashi alone displayed [on the mat] at its side.  This [arrangement] was named futatsu-kazari⁴.

(3) This arrangement is as shown in the sketch [above].


¹In addition to the words that are written on the sketch, a caption is also present in the Sen no Rikyū Zen-shu:


     The caption reads:  “this is what is called a yo-hō-ita [四方板]*.  It is also possible to place the futaoki, or the kama's kan, in the front corner of the ita on the side toward the katte†.  [With respect to the shape of the ita], depending on the shape of the kama‡, there is [also] one that is round; the square [ita] is [always] acceptable.  This was created by Jōō-Ro**.”
*This ita was created by cutting the naga-ita in half.  Thus, it is 1-shaku 2-sun 7-bu wide, and 1-shaku from front to back — it is not truly square, but rectangular.  Some report that Jōō said a shaku-maru do-buro [尺丸土風炉] (i.e., the furo made to be used on the ō-daisu) can be placed [only] on this ita.

†This is possible because of the ita's size and rectangular shape.  The chakin should also be placed on the ita, and possibly the lid of the chaire and the chashaku as well (see the discussion of the ō-ita [大板] in the Three Hundred Lines of Chanoyu.)

‡If the kama is square, then the ita should be round.  However, a square ita is always acceptable (since — at least in those days, the furo itself was always round:  square furo, and furo made in other, more fanciful, shapes, did not begin to appear until near the start of the second century of Tokugawa rule; usually this trend is associated with Kobori Enshū and his followers).

     The round ita was supposedly brought into being in a somewhat different manner — it was based on the shadow cast by a large iron kimen-buro when the source of illumination is directly overhead (thus the maru-ita is essentially the same diameter as the large kimen-buro itself).  While modern convention states that the maru-ita should be used only for a ryūkyū-buro [琉球風炉], which is a kind of chōsen-buro with extremely elongated legs (so that it appears to elevate the fire farther above the ita; while probably also originating in Korea, the first example was imported via the Ryūkyū islands, hence the name), it appears that, parallel with the case of Jōō’s yo-hō-ita, this ita was also originally used with furo of medium size.  (The prohibition against using the middle-sized bronze kimen-buro, however, appears to have held into the modern period; the practice where this kind of furo is placed on a shiki-ita only began in the Twentieth Century, because — in contrast with the ceramic or metal derivatives of the large kimen-buro such as the various mayu- and Dōan-buro — its smaller size seemed better suited to chanoyu when performed by women.)

**This was the original shiki-ita.  Before its creation, only the daisu and naga-ita were used to support the furo.  However, it is different from both the ō-ita [大板] and the ko-ita [小板] in that it was created from the naga-ita (rather than from either the daisu or derived from the large kimen-buro).

²This, however, does not mean that it was not done:  the machi-shū created several different futatsu-kazari arrangements for the naga-ita — including furo-kama and shakutate, and furo-kama and futaoki (both of which appear to be increasingly incongruous).

     Likewise, in the case of mitsu-kazari, the machi-shū had other combinations that the furo-kama, mizusashi, shaku-tate advocated by Rikyū.

     Once the effective rulers of Japan became interested in chanoyu, this was the cue for the immigrants of Sakai and Hakata who were devotees of Tea to begin jostling each other for positions of power and influence (regardless of the name of the ruling house, the shōgun was always wary of surrounding himself by native Japanese, since anyone resourceful enough to rise to his acquaintance could easily gain the power and backing necessary to usurp his throne, given an opportunity which proximity might one day provide:  only highly educated and cultured foreigners made suitable companions for the lordly, because while they could never succeed in staging a coup d’etat — they provided the shōgun with just the intellectual stimulation and patina of high culture that was frequently needed by warriors who rose to positions of political power), and this war of culture took the form of trying to one-up the opposing camps with the originality of ones arrangements — and the quality (and astronomical value) of the utensils that were used to create them.

³Perhaps because, like the daisu, the furo eventually use would damage the board underneath, rendering it useless.  By cutting it in half, Jōō was able to both salvage this precious old wood, and make something that did look well-balanced on the utensil mat*.
*The precedent appears to have been the earlier practice of cutting the ita-datami (representing the floor of the o-chanoyu-dana) in half, with the dauko sunk into the remaining section of board, while the mizusashi was placed on the portion covered with matting to its side.

⁴Which simply means a display consisting of two objects.

     I suppose that the futaoki (or the kama no kan) will not be counted when tallying up the utensils in futatsu-kazari.

⁵In the Sen no Rikyū Zen-shu, this plate was printed in the middle of the discussion of the dai-temmoku (translated in the previous post).  I have of course moved Rikyū’s sketch to the top of this entry.