[The section of Rikyū’s handwritten text that is translated in this post.]
(2) Neither when dipping out hot water, nor when dipping out cold water, should the hishaku be raised too high¹: it is best to be modest² [in ones actions].
Things whose contents will be poured out³ should be raised above [the mouth of] narrow things⁴, and then moved [to their destination] quickly [so drops of water will not fall onto the matting]. Thus to lift [the hishaku] up high is disagreeable⁵.
One should always proceed calmly, and execute the motion in the correct manner, as would be expected⁶.
Summing things up, this admonition is not limited to the [handling of the] hishaku. Rather, everything should be approached in this manner.
¹Generally speaking, the hishaku should be lifted about 2-sun above the mouth of the kama and mizusashi when performing yu-gaeshi (mixing the water in the kama so that the temperature is uniform) or pausing for the drop of water to fall, and equally 2-sun above the rim of the chawan when pouring water into it. (When discarding water into the koboshi, the chawan should be held 2-sun above the mouth of the koboshi as well.)
Moving the hishaku in a high arch is a reflexive reaction to the fear that a drop of water will fall from the go. This is why it was so disliked by Rikyū.
When traveling between the mizusashi and the kama, or the kama and the chawan, the hishaku should be raised or lowered smoothly between these end points. It is wrong to lift the hishaku in a high arch and then lower it to the next position (unfortunately, even some Iemoto have been guilty of this sin). This is what Rikyū is talking about here.
So there is no misunderstanding, the hishaku is not moved directly, as my sketch above might seem to suggest. It follows the proper route from the mizusashi to the kama, exiting the mizusashi on the right side* (avoiding both the naka-bashira and traveling over the corner of the ro-buchi), and entering the kama from the front:
When moving from kama to chawan the hishaku moves from the front of the mouth of the kama around the rim of the chawan to a point opposite the mouth of the kama on the opposite side of the chawan:
And when adding cold water to the chawan, the hishaku exits over the right side of the mizusashi, passes around the front of the chawan, and enters from a point opposite the position of the mizusashi.
This is what Rikyū means by “execut[ing] the motion in the correct manner.”
*When the ro is cut in the mat to the right of the utensil mat, and also when using a mukō-ro. When the ro, or furo, is on the left side of the utensil mat, then the hishaku exits the mizusashi over the left side of the rim.
²Tashinamu beshi [嗜むべし]. Tashinamu in this case means being modest or prudent.
³Kobore-mono [こぼれ物]: something, like the cup of the hishaku, whose contents will be poured out.
⁴Hosoi-mono [ほそき物]: things, like the chawan, the mouth of the kama, and even many times the mouth of the mizusashi, that have a narrow diameter. The hishaku is held above the mouth briefly (so any water clinging to the outside will drip off) before moving to its destination.
⁵Since the path traveled will be longer, thus making it more likely for water to drip onto the tatami.
⁶Sasuga ni shin ni kamaete-motsu-beshi [さすがに真に構えて持つべし]. Sasuga ni [流石に] means “as would be expected;” and shin* ni [真に] means “in the orthodox or correct manner.” Kamaete-motsu [構えて持つ] means to perform the action of holding (the hishaku), and the suffix -beshi [べし] means “one should do this.”
The hishaku is held as if it were an extension of the arm, and turned from the elbow, not the wrist. This is the “shin" manner of handling it. The host must be careful never to be sloppy in whatever he does. As the Hundred Poems of Chanoyu teaches, we first learn how to execute each motion correctly, and then incorporate these into the flow of our temae. But then we must go back and make sure that the motions as performed in our temae are as correctly executed as they were in isolation†.
Furthermore, we should also remember the poem that focuses on the handling of the hishaku: “as for the hishaku, when practicing how to use it to dip up hot water, pay attention to the three points of usage which have been handed down.” These three points consist of Rikyū’s warnings against:
- kara-jaku [から杓, 空杓], empty [hi]shaku: holding the hishaku with the mouth of the cup pointing down while moving it from the chawan to the kama (It should be turned back and moved as carefully as if it were full of water; only when it approaches the mouth of the kama should it be turned so that the mouth of the hishaku's go faces downward);
- shinda-jaku [死杓], dead [hi]shaku: holding the hishaku loosely and without energy, as if it were dead (this is the effect if it is handled from the wrist, rather than from the elbow); and,
- abura-jaku [油杓], oil[-seller’s] [hi]shaku: moving the hishaku up and down while pouring, and then shaking the last drops of water off of the cup before putting the hishaku down (as if demonstrating the quality of ones oil, or a fear over wasting a drop: the hishaku should be held still while pouring, rotating the cup only from the elbow;and when the pouring is finished, it should be held still until the last drop falls from the cup before setting it down).
*As in the expression “shin-gyō-sō.”
†Poem #8 in the Kyūshū manuscript version of the Hundred Poems of Chanoyu. The poem reads: keiko to ha / ichi yori narai / jū wo shire // jū yori kaeru / moto no sono ichi [稽古とは一より習い十を知れ、十より歸る元の其の一]: during the course of one’s study, beginning with the individual [motions], and studies until the whole is understood; and then one returns again to [refine] the individual [motions] — in the context of the complete temae.
‡Poem 21 in my translation: hishaku ni te / yu wo komu toki no / narai ni ha // mitsu no kokoro-e / aru-mono zo kashi [柄杓にて湯を汲む時の習には、三の心得有物ぞ可し].
**The three points that demand our attention may be found in the list known as Rikyū Sanjyūgo-ka-Jyō Kenki [利休三十五ヶ条嫌忌], a memorandum of 35 actions which the practitioner of tea is advised to avoid, which I have also translated earlier in this blog.