Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: V. The Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi-ate Densho (4)


[The section of Rikyū’s handwritten text that is translated in this post.]

(4) When the chasen is placed into the chawan [as the host gets ready to blend the koicha], the guests should rise up onto their knees¹, and, beginning with the [guest in the] highest seat, step by step do what [you have been taught] is correct when tea will be drunk.

     Then the guest in the highest seat should advance toward the middle of the room [on his knees] using his hands², and after picking up the chawan he should look at it to make sure the tea is good, and then after returning to his seat he should proceed to drink it.

     After two, or maybe three, sips, he should stop and appraise [the amount of koicha that remains in the bowl], and decide whether to finish drinking it all or pass it on to the next guest³.

     When [first] taking the chawan⁴, if the guest in the highest seat simply reaches out and picks it up [without moving forward on his knees first — even if just a little, as would be required in a room where he is seated on the mat next to the utensil mat], this is discourteous.

     Also, for him to begin to move forward early⁵ [while the host] is still preparing the tea is [likewise disagreeable?].


¹Kyaku-jin hiza wo tatsu-beshi [客人膝を立つべし].  Chanoyu was never intended to be a feat of endurance, especially for the guests.  Consequently, there never was any objection to their sitting crosslegged (or in whatever way they found most comfortable) until it was time to drink the tea (at which time, as Rikyū points out here, they should assume a properly respectful position).

     Sitting seiza throughout began in the Edo period, as a mark of respect to a daimyō (who might someday be present at a gathering to which this person was also invited:  one can not simply sit seiza for long periods of time without considerable practice, so especially people who were frequently involved with chanoyu came to accept sitting in seiza at all times as good practice, so that they could do so without loosing the feeling in their legs when this was made necessary by the presence of a guest of high status).

²Te wo tsuki [手を付き], by (or using) the hands.  One places the hands (rolled up into a fist, with knuckles down) a short distance beyond the knee-line and then slides or swings the body forward.

³The last four decades of the sixteenth century was the time when things were changing.  When Jōō died in 1555, it was still the norm for an individual bowl of koicha to be prepared for each guest (as well as two bowls of usucha, almost always during a separate temae later in the gathering).  After Jōō’s passing, Rikyū began to assert himself and started to customarily prepare one bowl of koicha for the shōkyaku, while doubling up on the remaining guests.   Between 1595 (and Hideyoshi’s liquidation of Sakai) and 1615, chanoyu entered into a period of decline and, with the seppuku of Oribe in 1615, all but ceased to exist.  When chanoyu was revived at the behest of the Tokugawa bakufu, under Sōtan and the machi-shū, for all of the guests to share a single large bowl of koicha was now the norm (and has remained thus up to the present day).

     However, even in the time of Rikyū (and possibly as early as the last quarter of the fifteenth, or the early sixteenth, century) — especially when the number of guests was small (two people, or maybe even three) — some of the recluses*, who were the original type of the wabi-chajin†, following the precedent of Shukō’s passing around the bowl of tea offered to the spirit of his departed teacher, were already beginning to offer just one bowl of koicha for all of the guests (including the shōkyaku) to share with each other‡.

     Mindful of the various possibilities with which the guest might be confronted — Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi (unlike the majority of Rikyū’s close associates to whom most of the other surviving densho were addressed), appears to have been one of those people who preferred making just one bowl of koicha for all of the guests to share — Rikyū advises the shōkyaku to drink normally first, and only then consider if the amount of tea remaining in the chawan merits its being passed along, or whether he should perhaps finish it all and let the host prepare another bowl of tea for the following guest or guests**.
*These people were pursuing chanoyu as a discipline, an exercise in motion meditation, thus they were explicitly offering their bowl of tea to the Buddha, and incidentally sharing that offering with their guests so that the tea itself would not be wasted — as had been the original idea.  This is different from the kind of social tea practiced by Jōō and Rikyū, and most people in the city, where serving tea to people was the reason for the gathering.

†This practice was championed by certain factions within that group of Sakai teamen not affiliated with Jōō or Rikyū, who are conventionally lumped together under the name machi-shū.  (I should point out that  this was actually a fairly diverse group, who ranged from those still practicing the elaborate courtly-style of tea associated with the Koryeo court and that of the Ashikaga shōguns, to that of the nameless mountain recluses — some of whom were using the powder left over when rice is polished rather than ground matcha — who represent the opposite extreme of the spectrum; still it appears that the falling out with Jōō endureded by certain outspoken and influential members of this group precipitated a sort of solidification of the opposition to those people whom they considered adherents of the antiquated orthodox method espoused by Jōō and Rikyū.  It was this sense of opposition that melds these different factions into what we may call the machi-shū movement.)

‡This is called sui-cha [吸い茶], and it only became the norm in the Edo period — under the influence of Sōtan and the machi-shū

     To the end, Rikyū himself seems to have preferred to serve the shōkyaku an individual bowl of tea — except possibly (during his last year or two of life) when there were only two guests, and they all (host and guests) were social equals.

**Conventionally, the chaire was supposed to be filled more or less completely (so that the presence of a large air-pocket would not allow the tea to begin to degrade); thus, except in the case where the host had already poured all of the tea into the chawan (usually only the case when he was using a small natsume, typically when the matcha had been received from someone else rather than prepared specifically for that gathering by the host), making another bowl or two of koicha would not normally present the host with any serious logistical problems.

⁴Typical of Rikyū, he has neglected to include this point in its proper chronological place*, so he has simply tacked it on the the end of the passage.

     Rikyū is referring to the point in time when the shōkyaku first picks up the chawan from where the host handed it out.
*These kinds of lapses suggest that Rikyū was not writing in his native language.

Haya☐☐ [はや☐☐]:  the paper is damaged, and the final word or words are illegible*. 

     I have taken this word to be hayai [はやい = 早い], meaning (moving forward) early, but this is only an educated guess.

     The word that informs us of the consequences (or the impression) that moving forward early will produce, is also unreadable.  In all probability, Rikyū likely deemed this action offensive — since that is the trend of thought expressed in this final pair of sentences.
*The editors of the Rikyū Daijiten have finally decided to assert themselves here, and filled in several of the characters that Suzuki Keiichi was unable to decypher.

     For the record, the best Suzuki could do was mata cha ☐☐☐ tsukite ☐☐☐ [又茶☐☐☐つきて☐☐☐], which does not really suggest much of anything.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: V. The Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi-ate Densho (3)


[The section of Rikyū’s handwritten text that is translated in this post.]

(3) When the chawan¹ is placed out [for the guests to receive], for a certain reason² a fukusa must be put out together with it. 

     There is a kuden associated [with this point]³. 

     But now, in your own place⁴, you need not rest [the chawan] on [the fukusa — though you should still offer a fukusa to the guests when serving them koicha]⁵.


¹The temae being described is the service of koicha.  Thus the fukusa must accompany any chawan but one already resting on a dai (i.e., a dai-temmoku).

²Nani to naku [なにとなく = 何と無く]:  “for some reason or other” (in other words, for a certain, unspecified, reason). 

     The “reason” is a kuden [口傳], a teaching that is supposed to be transmitted orally (and so not written down*).
*Where these teachings might be accessed by other persons not yet ready, in the opinion of ones teacher, to receive them.  This is a danger, since it is all too easy to misunderstand — and/or misuse — teachings for which one has not been sufficiently prepared through training under a qualified teacher.

     This, as a matter of fact, is just why modern-day chanoyu deviates so greatly from what Rikyū taught, precisely because his teachings were ignorantly taken out of their proper context and applied to situations for which they were never intended.  The matter of placing the fukusa next to the chawan (or not) when offering koicha to ones guests is a case in point.

³The kuden is that the fukusa takes the place of the dai.  Thus the fukusa was always supposed to be opened up* on the mat first, and then the chawan was rested on top.

     Whether the chawan is placed on top of the fukusa by the host, or offered to the guests beside the bowl of koicha, the guests should always spread the fukusa out and rest the bowl on top of it before proceeding to drink the tea.  This is a mark of respect both to the bowl, and to the koicha that it contains.
*Originally an ordinary large fukusa was used for this purpose.  Traditionally the fukusa is folded into eighths when carried in the host’s futokoro

     If the tea is being served in a small chawan (such as a raku-chawan), then one fold of the fukusa is opened, so it is a quarter of its actual size; if koicha has been prepared in a large bowl (such as an ido-chawan), two folds are opened so that the fukusa is spread out twice as long from side to side as it is from front to back, and the chawan is placed on top of this.

     A small chawan is held on the palm of the left hand and supported by the right hand grasping its right side.  A large chawan is cupped between the two palms (with the fukusa, which usually extends above the rim on the left and right sides, helping to prevent the bowl accidentally slipping down between the hands and falling to the floor).

     The ko-bukusa [originally 小袱紗, but usually written 古袱紗 today] began to appear in the Edo period, as a way to reuse part of the old cloth of an ordinary-sized fukusa that had begun to wear out from long years of use.  Its size is roughly derived from that of the men’s kaishi.  Since it is only folded in half, it is always opened fully — irrespective of the size of the chawan that will be placed on it.

Ima koko ni ha nosezu [今爰はのせず]:  “now, in this place* [the chawan] does not [have to be] rested [on the fukusa].”

     Rikyū is saying that it is no longer necessary† for Jōchi to rest the chawan on top of the fukusa when serving koicha in his own tearoom using his own utensils‡.

     When reading the Rikyū Densho, we must constantly remind ourselves that that these documents were always written for a specific individual, and so occasionally there may be special considerations or dispensations mentioned in one densho that seem to contradict the teachings mentioned in the others.  Jōchi was, among all of RIkyū’s closer associates, one of the least likely to found a school (indeed, Jōchi was possessed of the “perpetual student” mentality throughout his whole life).  That his successors did so, and then used this private document (that was intended for Jōchi’s eyes and no others) as their modus operandi, could never have been foreseen;

     I would like to add something here.  Both Suzuki Keiichi’s Sen no Rikyū Zen-shu and (probably copying directly from that source without any further scrutiny or review**) the Rikyū Daijiten transpose this sentence as ima koko ni ha nosezu [今爰はのせず].  However, looking at the photograph of the original document (reproduced at the top of this post), it appears that it actually reads ima koko ni ha nose-tsugu†† [ここのせ次], which would mean something a little different:  “now, in your case you should rest [the fukusa] beside [the chawan].”   That is, Rikyū is telling‡‡ Jōchi that, in his situation, it would be better for him to rest the fukusa next to the chawan, rather than placing the chawan on top.  Again, this is related specifically to Jōchi’s circumstances, and so it is not possible to say why Rikyū advises him to act in this manner.
*Koko ni ha [爰は] literally means “with respect to this place,” in other words, in Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi’s personal tearoom.  Jōchi was a prototypical wabi-suki-sha [ワビ数奇者]. and he seems to have disliked employing the marks of affectation that were conspicuous elements of the practice of many of his contemporaries.

     This phrase koko ni ha is the key to understanding this passage, because Rikyū is certainly not suggesting that everyone must do things in this way.  (Certainly it seems that he continued to rest the chawan on the fukusa when offering a bowl of koicha to his guests in his own tearoom.)  

†The practice of placing the fukusa beside the chawan (rather than resting the chawan on top) began to manifest itself around this time, and among people (like Jōchi) who rejected the ostentation that formerly had dominated the practice of chanoyu. (the objection was to the idea that placing the chawan on a fukusa does honor to the chawan — though originally it was considered doing honor to the koicha, as the original kind of tea, that the chawan contains).

‡Another possible interpretation is that this suggestion applies only when Jōchi is serving tea in his own room and using his own chawan.  But when serving tea somewhere else, and/or when using the chawan that belongs to someone else, he should by all means follow the traditional practice of placing the fukusa out first, and then resting the bowl of koicha on top of it (as if the fukusa were a chawan-dai).

**This is not the first instance where probable errors from Suzuki’s printed version of the text appear in the Rikyū Daijiten, even when their own plates clearly indicate a different reading or interpretation.  (I have intentionally used the words “printed version” because there is no way to determine if these errors were due to Suzuki’s misreading of what may well have been a bad or damaged source, or whether they were mistakes made by the typesetter that were not caught in the galley proofs.)

††It could also be read ima koko ni ha nose-tsugi, but the English translation would be the same.

‡‡According to the Sen no Rikyū Zen-shu and Rikyū Daijiten reading (using nosezu [のせず = せず]) it is possible to understand this statement to mean that Jōchi’s decision to place the fukusa next to the chawan is being affirmed by Rikyū. 

     However, if my reading is correct, it seems that this is Rikyū’s idea, which he is advising Jōchi to adopt — as a consequence of Jōchi’s personal circumstances (perhaps Jōchi was using especially humble utensils when serving tea, or perhaps the kinds of guests that Jōchi usually received were wabi teamen who would appreciate this gesture of humility on the part of the host as a reflection of the sincerity of his mind and purpose).

⁵The modern schools that teach that we are not supposed to use a fukusa when serving koicha in a raku-chawan take this passage as their precedent*.  But this is a faulty reading of the text.  Rikyū is most definitely not saying that the fukusa should be eliminated entirely from the service of koicha, but only that Jōchi, in his goku-wabi tearoom, is free to lay the fukusa beside the chawan rather than resting the chawan on it as heretofore.  Placing the fukusa beside the bowl when using his own utensils was a mark of Jōchi’s personal humility, the self-deprecation of his own possessions — yet the fukusa must still be provided for the guests to use when drinking.
*They interpret koko ni nosezu to mean that the fukusa is not to be placed out (rather than that the chawan is not to be rested on the fukusa), though this hardly agrees with Rikyu’s usage with regard to the verb noseru [載せる], which means “to rest something on top of another object” (as in the expression bon ni chaire wo nosete [盆に茶入を載せて], the chaire is rested on a tray).

     Apparently because these schools also argue that Rikyū personally invented the black raku-chawan, and so he naturally was making reference to this kind of bowl. 

     Neither of these assertions will bear the weight of history, unfortunately — because the raku bowl was created by Chōjirō using Korean underglaze-slip coloring techniques (in an effort to replicate the ame-colored yellow Seto bowl that Rikyū had been given by Kitamuki Dōchin when he finished his studies with that teacher),

and only later adopted the hiki-dashi techniques devised by Oribe at the Seto kilns to produce the first black bowls during the last two years of so of Rikyū’s lifetime, and Rikyū’s pronouncement is directed expressly at Jōchi and his wabi style of practice, not necessarily at the tea world in general, and this is not specifically connected with any sort of chawan — but appear to be simply statements uttered by one Iemoto or another to imply that he and his school possessed some sort of secret knowledge unknown to the others. 

     If one understands the genealogical history of the Sen families during the Edo period, it becomes obvious that none of them were allowed to harbor any sort of knowledge denied to the rest simply because when one of their Iemoto was childless, the preferred source for an heir was one of the other Sen houses, hence the knowledge and practice of all three families had to be kept in step lest the adopted Iemoto be accused of changing things in favor of a different school than the one he now was called upon to head.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: V. The Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi-ate Densho (2)


[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.

Hosoi-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.

Sasuga 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.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: V. The Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi¹-ate Densho (1²)


[The section of Rikyū’s handwritten text that is translated in this post.]

(1) […Then,] the hishaku is rested [on the mouth of the kama]³. 

     Very quickly the chasen should be picked up and [the koicha] blended.

     After the blending is finished, the host adjusts the position of his knees [so that he faces the section of mat on the right side of the ro], and puts [the chawan] out where the guests will receive it.

     The place to put [the used chasen]⁴ is between the ro and the wall on the katte-side [of the utensil mat] within the enclosure⁵, in the very middle of the mat.

     [Only] after the guest has taken the chawan should the lid of the kama be closed, and the hishaku and hikkiri placed beside the mizu-koboshi⁶.  
     The teishu should then sit back humbly⁷ and wait patiently [for the chawan to be returned].


¹Jōchi [紹知] was the name Yabu-no-uchi Ken-chū [薮内劍仲, 1536~1627]* received from Jōō as a sign of affiliation (the equivalent of a chamei [茶名] or “tea name” today).  

     After Jōō’s death, Kenchū continued to practice tea under Sen no Rikyū, from whom he received this densho† — in1580.


     Jōchi is said to have had a very theatrical style of temae‡, and Rikyū designed the 2-mat daime tearoom known as Unkyaku-tei [雲脚亭], above, to (literally) showcase Kenchu’s talents (the utensil mat is separated from the rest of the room by what can be described as a proscenium arch; the tokonoma is board-floored, and in line with the temae-za, set at an angle like a stage set, so that the scroll can be viewed by host and guests alike).  The room contains the original kanban (inscribed on a gourd-shaped piece of wood) in Rikyū’s handwriting.


     After Rikyū’s seppuku, Jōchi continued to practice tea under Rikyū’s successor Furuta Sōshitsu [Oribe], from whom he received the 3-mat daime** En-an [燕庵] tearoom, above, as a memento of their relationship (contemporaries more frequently compared Jōchi’s personal style of tea to that of Oribe, rather than to the other two masters with whom they had both been associated:  Jōchi was 8 or 9 years older than Oribe, so they were closer to each other than they were to either of their earlier teachers, this closeness would have only been enhanced by Jōchi’s habit of deferring to Oribe rather than trying to lord it over him as might have been expected). 

     Both the En-an and the Unkyaku-tei are still preserved in the Yabu-no-uchi family compound to this day.
*Yabu-no-uchi Kenchū was known by many other names over the course of his long life.

†The possession of this document gave the Yabu-no-uchi a degree of authority almost equal to that of Sen no Sōtan.  Thus while the Senke were (collectively) known as the kami-ryū [上流] or Upper School (because their residences were located in the Kami-gyō area of Kyōto, north of the Imperial Palace), the Yabu-no-uchi were known as the shimo-ryū [下流], Lower School, because their compound was located south of the Palace.

     It might be added that, contrary to the way things are in the present, originally there was little difference (related to temae or theory) between the three Sen families.  (The fact that they often adopted heirs from one or the other house tended to preclude any significant deviations from the standard forms throughout the Edo period.).  The divergence in their approaches came about much more recently (after they lost the financial support of the daimyō families and had to fend for themselves).

‡Supposedly still represented in the Yabu-no-uchi School’s standard temae, which includes many exaggerated gestures and mie-like pauses.

**The En-an room has an additional 1.5-mat area (separable from the rest of the room by a bank of fusuma, for a lord’s personal attendants.  It is located to the left of the room in the above photo, and is board-floored (though the floor is usually covered with a woven mat).

²This densho (which unfortunately is fragmentary*) survives in Rikyū’s own handwriting.  I am therefore going to translate it in sections as he indicates.  The original consists of ten entries plus his closing signature and dedication.
*The narration begins immediately before the host blends the koicha, thus the first half of the temae (wherein may be found the largest number of differences between Rikyū’s temae and that of Sōtan and the machi-shū which gave rise to the modern form) and any precursory notes are missing.

³Rikyū is narrating the ordinary koicha-temae performed on a daime, with a naka-bashira and sode-kabe, and the ro cut in the mat to the right of the utensil mat.  The hishaku is rested on the mouth of the kama with the cup facing downward.

⁴This sentence, which is written as if continuing the previous idea, has confused many (who have not read the passage carefully).  Rikyū is no longer speaking about the chawan, however, but has turned his attention to the chasen.


     This repositioning of the chasen after blending the koicha is a very important point in Rikyū’s temae.  At the beginning*, the clean chasen is placed beside the handle of the hishaku, as shown above in the left-hand sletch.  After it has been used to blend the koicha, however, it is stood on the other side of the host’s body, next the chaire†, as seen on the right. 

     After the second chasen-tōshi, assuming that the chasen has been completely cleaned, it is briefly returned to the right side of the mat, near the hishaku.  (If, however, it is still stained from the koicha, it should be put back on the host’s left.)

     According to the Nampō Roku, when performing an usucha-temae, if little or no foam is found clinging to the tines, the host may continue to place the chasen on the right throughout the temae.
*Originally some of Rikyū’s contemporaries (specifically, among the machi-shū) objected to this, saying that until purified by the chasen-tōshi the chasen should be placed on the left.  But Rikyū countered that, since the chasen is always supposed to be brand new, it should be set on the right side from the start. 

     This, by the way, is why the chasen is always stood next to the chaire in the modern machi-shū-derived temae.

†Or, next to the koboshi (when the chaire is resting on a tray).

Ro to katte-no-kabe to no aida no ko-ma naka [爐と勝手の壁との間の小間中].  Ko-ma [小間] here refers to what is usually termed the kamae [構え] in the contemporary tea world, the space enclosed between the naka-bashira and sode-kabe and the wall on the katte-side of the mat.  It does not (as some have assumed) refer to the “small room*” as a whole.
*Unfortunately, since this is historically one of the earliest appearances of the term ko-ma in literature devoted to chanoyu, it unintentionally served as a precedent (whereby the original significance of the term — a room with wall-to-wall tatami mats and a sode-kabe that hides the service area of the room — was eventually forgotten).

Hishaku to hikkiri wo mizu-koboshi no hen ni oki [柄杓と引切を水翻の邊におき].  “Beside the koboshi" is one of Rikyū’s abbreviations. 

     The hishaku is usually placed on top of the koboshi, always (at this point in the temae*) with the cup (facing downward) beyond the rim, so that the handle alone contacts the rim of the koboshi in two places.  The futaoki, of course, is placed beside the koboshi.

     On the daime, the futaoki should always be a hikkiri†, just as the koboshi should always be a kiji-mentsū [木地面桶].
*Some understanding of this point is necessary, since it differs from what many modern schools teach.  The hishaku may also be rested on top of the koboshi when it is carried into the room at the beginning of the service of tea, but this is correct only in the case of the kiji-mentsū [木地面桶], and (technically) only when the mentsū is brand new.  The cup of the hishaku (facing downward) contacts the front edge of the mentsū, and the handle the back edge of the rim (this is very stable, and the hishaku will not fall off easily).  If the mentsū has been used before, however, it should be handled as below.

     When the koboshi is made of any other material (including when it is a lacquered mentsū), the hishaku should be held in the right hand (with the handle parallel to the floor, and held midway between the breast and the waist) and the koboshi (containing the futaoki) is held in the left hand just below the hishaku, according to Rikyū.

Hikkiri [引切] means a bamboo futaoki, specifically one that has a node present — this having been Rikyū’s innovation.  Hikkiru [引切る] means to chop off (with a sword).  Since the walls of a section of bamboo without a node would crack or collapse when hit by a sword, only a section containing a node can be struck off in this way, thus the application of this term to this kind of bamboo futaoki

     The generic name for futaoki made of bamboo was originally take-wa [竹輪], and this is the word used by Jōō and Rikyū prior to Rikyū’s close association with the samurai practitioners affiliated with Hideyoshi.

Teishu kashikomari te iru nari [亭主かしこまりて居る也].  Kashikomaru [畏まる] means to humble oneself.  The word, however, also includes the sense of sitting with the back straight, and neither slouching nor leaning against the wall, and keeping quiet (not speaking unless spoken to). 

     The meaning of the host’s “being humble” refers to the fact that he should allow the guests to take as long as they like when drinking the tea and afterward inspecting the chawan.  He should not show any trace of impatience, or evince any desire to keep things moving.  He should efface himself, sitting quietly until the guests are done, and only then continue with his temae*.
*This is why this pause is called the naka-jimae [中仕舞; originally 中終], which means ending (the temae) in the middle.  While the guests drink their koicha and inspect the chawan, the temae is literally suspended, as if temporarily over.

     As for the kanji used to write this idea, shimae [仕舞] was an expression borrowed from the drama (where it means a dance performed out of costume — apparently the relation to ending was that when was performed in a semi-private setting, as often the case in both Nobunaga’s and Hideyoshi’s time, often a member of the audience would rise, at the end, and perform a dance of his own, to express his delight…in the same way that occasionally, in the context of a chaji, one or more of the guests might ask to be allowed to serve usucha to the host at the end of the go-za), and so the expression really is a hentai-gana; originally the word was written naka-jimae [中終], which literally means stopping (the flow of the temae) in the middle.

Regarding the next series of posts.

Dear Followers and Readers,

     I received only a very little feedback regarding the question of what to do next.  The majority of votes (one), was for a narration of the teaching process for a beginner. 

     While it will not be too difficult to write this out, I would like to include visual presentations, and this will take some time to prepare. 

     Thus I am going to continue with the Rikyū densho * until things are ready for publication here.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel M. Burkus

*The next series of posts (that I will start to put up tomorrow morning) will be published under the title Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: V. The Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi-ate Densho.  Though superficially this seems to be a very basic and elementary text, a fragment of a narration of the ordinary koicha-temae, it is pregnant with priceless jewels of chanoyu wisdom….

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: IVb. The Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho, Appended Entries (D. Details of the Taji [= Tabi-dansu], 2¹)

(5) […]²

     The bottom of the tana is [occupied by a removable board] 7-sun 4-bu [from front to back].  The place where the [end of the handle of the] hishaku stands is a round hole, 1-sun 5-bu from this [board’s] left edge.  When it is resting on [the floor of the tabi-dansu] there is a space 1-sun 2-bu between [it and the front edge of the tana]. 

     The diameter of the hole [into which the end of the hishaku's handle fits] is 4-bu.

     With respect to the height of the upper shelf, from the [roof of the tana] to the top of the struts³ on which [the shelf] rests, the distance is 4-sun 1-bu.  These strut’s thickness is 3-bu

     Likewise, with respect to the lower shelf, from the floor of the tana to the bottom of the strut is measured 2-sun 8-bu.

     The distance between the upper and lower struts is 7-sun 1-bu.

     The depth of the upper track [for the door] is 4-bu.  The door is recessed 6-bu [from the front edge of the tana] on all four sides.

                                                                                          The end.⁵

¹The previous entry was placed in the middle of this one.  The text resumes more or less where it left off in the penultimate post.  However, the details of the lower of the two shelves are missing and seem to have been lost completely. 

     The resumption of the subject of the taji/tabi-dansu occurs abruptly and without any punctuation, as if three fragmentary pages were simply copied in the order in which they were found, with no notice taken of content or context.  How this sort of thing is even possible is, frankly, beyond my abilities to conjecture — I honestly can not fathom how anyone could mindlessly copy a document without any curiosity over the irrelevance of one statement to the next…..

²The text resumes, but the entry on the dimensions of the lower shelf is missing.  The description that follows is of the board that rests on the floor of the tana, and is removed (to serve as a base for the chawan and other small utensils while the host is making tea).

³Pairs of horizontal struts are attached to the left and right interior sides of the box to support the upper and the middle shelves (the shelves, which are simply thin slats f wood, simply rest on top of the slats). 

     As before, these struts are described by the word san [棧] in Rikyū’s text.

⁴The final couple of sentences are not entirely coherent, and appear to be fragmentary (as if the paper had been damaged and illegible characters simply ignored).

⁵The passage ends with the word shita [下] — “the bottom” — separated from the rest of the text, but followed by nothing.  It thus appears to have been intended to suggest “the end” of the appended passages (the reader must remember that this is a hand-made copy, once or more times removed from the original documents, and so does not necessarily reflect Rikyū’s formatting or stylistic intentions), and I have so translated the word.

     Before closing, a couple of words should be said about the use of the tabi-dansu.  It is important to understand that (contrary to modern teaching and practice, where the tabi-dansu is usually put out on the utensil mat as if it were an ordinary mizusashi-dana) the tabi-dansu was conceived by Rikyū as a portable dōko [洞庫].  It was placed on the left side of the area that the host was using as his utensil mat, in the same relationship to the temae-za as a built-in dōko would have had, and it was utilized during the temae in exactly the same way.  When tea was being served out-of-doors, a shallow pit was dug (before hand) on the side of the tabi-dansu opposite to the one against which the door would be leaned, into which used water was discarded.  (This is why the tana makes no provision for the inclusion of a mizu-koboshi [= kensui].)

     This is the end of the text of what I have called the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho and its three* appended entries.
*While there are technically four appended sections, the second entery was divided into two parts by the insertion of the third, thus there are only three actual entries in the appendix.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: IVb. The Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho, Appended Entries (C. Displaying a Bonsan-seki)

(3) With respect to the bonsan-seki¹, it is most correct for it to [to be displayed] in summer².

     The way to arrange the stone is as shown in the sketch which has been set down here:


[Rikyū’s sketch.  The writing reads: (on the right side of the sketch) tachi-suna (立砂), and then “this is done differently, depending on the stone itself; the scene suggested by the stone should be completed as needed by placing two mounds of sand;” (and on the left) tachi-suna (立砂) again]³

(4) The secret teaching that relates to the arrangement of a bonsan has been passed down from the Higashiyama-dono [東山殿], and still exists in the world [today].  There is this poem:

"In front of the bonsan, two sand dunes; and behind it, the far-distant ocean should be suggested, so you should practice.⁴”

¹Bonsan-seki [盆山石], also known (especially in the present day) as bon-seki [盆石], is a viewing stone arranged in a shallow tray* of sand.  
     The stone, according to its shape, suggests a scene from nature (a mountain, an island, a cliff face, and so forth), and the sand is arranged in such a manner as to enhance or complete the impression.

     Originally the tray was filled to a certain depth with fairly coarse sand, and this was raked into ripples, waves, hillocks, and so on (the way the sand is raked in a kare-san-sui [枯山水] Zen garden).  Since I can not find any suitable photos of a bonsan-seki arranged in this manner, here is something similar done to the rocks in a kare-san-sui garden:


     Nowadays it seems more common either for a good portion of the tray to be left uncovered (with the black-lacquered surface showing), and a thin sprinkling of very fine sand sculpted (with a feather) into more literal breaking waves, even into shapes suggesting docks, rocks, streams, and more; occasionally they appear to do away with the impediment of the physical stone entirely, contenting themselves with something more akin to sand-painting.  Or for living plants (akin to bonsai) to be planted on the stone.  The latter sort of treatment has always been especially popular in China.  (However, it is important to recognize that this entry does not refer to either of these kinds of handling of the bonsan.)

     The two elevated mounds of sand mentioned in the Higashiyama-dono's poem give a three-dimensional character to what otherwise would be a two-dimensional background for the rock.  Representative techniques of sand-raking are shown in the photos below (a tachi-suna [立砂], or sand-mound, is shown in the upper left corner).

*As with most of these kinds of practices that saw their beginnings in the Higashiyama period, there are still in existence schools and secret teachings related even to something as simple and straightforward as displaying a stone on a tray — or, as many now prefer, a flat board (like an usu-ita).

²Especially during the hottest days of summer, following the end of the rainy season, flowers may be rare (and are often bleached out by the sun when they can be found), thus a bonsan may be a good substitute.  Furthermore, since the raked sand should be dampened, it inherently looks cool.

³The sketch (we must remember that this is a copy of Rikyū’s sketch made by someone else, and there is the possibility that it was recopied more than once before it arrived at the state known from the present document) is a little difficult to interpret.  The words tachi-suna [立砂] on the right and left sides are captions that name the two mounds of sand (to which the Higashiyama-dono's poem makes reference), otherwise indicated by the two small circles.  The text that seems to flow from the word tachi-suna on the right is actually an explanatory note that Rikyū may have added later.  The note and the caption were probably run together into a single passage by a subsequent copyist.

     Digitally edited so that the note is separated from the caption, the sketch would look like this:

     I have colored the “sand dunes” brown to make them more obvious.

     Compared with Rikyū’s original sketch from the Nambō-ate Densho, below (here I have also colored the “sand dunes” in the same way), we can conclude that the copyist was simply not in his class as a draftsman:


Bon-san no / mae ni ha futatsu / hama bisashi // ushiro ni tōi / umi soe narai [盆山の前には貳ツ浜ひさし、うしろに遠き海添えならし].
*This text gives the last line as umi soe naranu [海そえならぬ]; however, authentic and undisputed versions of the text have narai [ならし]. 

     Naranu means “can not be,” while narai means “you should practice doing [it like that]…”

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: IVb. The Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho, Appended Entries (B. Details of the Taji [= Tabi-dansu]¹, 1)

(2) With respect to the [details¹ of the] taji [簞笥]², on the outside it is 1-shaku 1-sun 4-bu, and the sides (also on the outside) are 8-sun 8-bu [from front to back].  The height (also [measured] on the outside) is 1-shaku 5-sun.

     [The handles]³ are 5-bu 3-rin⁴ thick; however, on the [two exposed] edges, the corners are chamfered⁵.

     The depth of the upper shelf is 5-sun 8-bu.  

     A slot for the [handle of the] hishaku is cut [in the upper shelf] on the left 1-sun 4-bu from the edge, or else [1-sun 4]-bu and a half.  The slot itself is 4-bu deep⁶ and 2-bu wide.  […]⁷.


¹This entry reads more like a description written for a carpenter (I am aware of one of Rikyū’s orders for a hanging scroll that still survives, and it reads in much the same way) than something appropriate for inclusion in a densho*, and probably represents a copy of an actual note that Rikyū had sent off to one of his craftsman ordering a tabi-dansu.

     While an order for something like a tana might conceivably be important to preserve and perhaps even imitate (since the utensil mat at least in the small room is generally of the same dimensions — based on the standard kyōma-datami), other things like the specifics of a kakemono should never be imitated mndlessly simply because this kind of thing was always designed for display in one particular tokonoma†.  (Unfortunately, in the early Edo period mindless imitations of his designs were made, and when these proved disharmonious to the larger toko that became fashionable among the daimyō and their subordinates of that time, the proportions were modified by Kobori Masakazu [Enshū], and these sizes were taught to the professional craftsmen and continue in use even into the present, with the result that few scrolls made today bear the same relationship to the toko that scrolls from the earlier period did.)

     However, it is also important to mention that the 1680 block-printed edition of Rikyū’s teachings (based primarily on the Nambō-ate Densho), published as the Rikyū Chanoyu Sho [利休茶湯書], devotes two full books to a fairly inclusive list of sukiya-dōgu (utensils commonly used in the sukiya), with their dimensions detailed in just this manner.  Unaware of the practice of gokushin-no-chanoyu and the teachings of kane-wari and the like (and disenchanted with the crude and plebian doings of Sen no Sōtan), the chajin of that time considered these lists of dimensions just as secret as Rikyū’s teachings on temae and the arrangement of the utensils, and coveted them just as passionately.  (And, indeed, it is as a result of this behavior — and the fact that tea practitioners demanded utensils that matched the published descriptions — that it is possible to recreate not only the tea or Rikyū’s day, but even gokushin-no-chanoyu itself).
*Especially since there is nothing (even fragmentary evidence) to indicate that temae notes were ever a part of the description — even if they were subsequently lost.

†And when the height and width of the toko are different, such as when that scroll is being displayed somewhere else, it will no longer look the way it was intended (and so Rikyū’s genius will no longer be obvious).  This is particularly important to remember concerning scrolls designed by Rikyū and the early masters of his ilk, beginning with Nōami and the other dōbō

     Modern scrolls, by the way, tend to differ in their proportions from these earlier examples, since by and large Enshū’s formula for calculating the sizes of the parts of the scroll are used.  Nevertheless, since no particular tokonoma is present in the mind of the person designing the scroll (technically three pieces of information are needed:  the size of the hon-shi, the height of the mu-sō-kugi [無双釘], and the height and width of the toko),  — as would be impossible for scrolls made to be sold in utensil shops — the end result is almost invariably inappropriate, and was the reason why such a foolish thing as the jiku kake-kugi no suibachi [軸掛釘垂撥] — the length of bamboo with a movable hook used to lower the scroll when it is too short for the intended tokonoma was invented.  (Again, technically speaking, this is not a matter of concern when the scroll was designed for use somewhere else.  According to the Nampō Roku, the only scroll that must fit the tokonoma properly is the host’s treasured scroll, whose mounting should have been designed specifically for his toko:  he need entertain no sense of apprehension regarding any other scroll in his collection, since they presumably were designed to be hung elsewhere….)

²Taji [たぢ = 簞笥].  The kanji are often read tansu today, as in the case of Rikyū’s tabi-dansu [旅簞笥].  This section in fact describes the measurements of the Rikyū tabi-dansu (under its original name of taji), shown below (center and right photos).


     The prototypical taji (shown above, on the left) was a continental piece, a wooden box with carrying handle and lift-out door on the front side, in which tea implements (or perhaps shelf-like boxes for picnic foods and accessories) were carried*.

     Rikyū’s tabi-dansu was based on this idea, though he eschewed the idea of a carrying handle (out of concern over the safety of the objects contained within); it has a handle on either side, so that the box is carried more safely in front of the body (with arms extended, much as a mizusashi is carried in the hakobi-temae).
*The earliest known mention of the original taji (at least in the context of chanoyu) is found in the Tennojiya Kaiki, in an entry dated to the end of 1550.

³Yoko-zan [横棧]:  a horizontal crosspiece, strut, or bar (san [棧] is a general term for any attached piece of wood of this shape).  In this case, the reference is to the two horizontal handles attached to the left and right sides of the box.

Rin [リン = 厘] a linear measurement equivalent to one-tenth of a bu [分].

⁵The upper and lower exposed corners of the handle-pieces are beveled at a 45° angle.

⁶In other words, the slot for the handle of the hishaku extends 4-bu into the shelf measured from the front edge.

⁷The description of the taji stops here, and is interrupted by the entry on the bonsan-seki (which follows). 

     Rikyū’s notes on the taji/tabi-dansu will be resumed in the final installment in this appendix.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: IVb. The Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Densho, Appended Entries¹ (A. The Tsuki-[age] Mado)

Mata [又]²:

(1) The length of the bamboo [pole] for the tsuki[-age] mado³ in the sukiya should be 7-sun 3-bu.  Also 5-sun 1-bu.  And also 3-sun 2-bu⁴.

     With respect to the manner in which the bamboo is cut, ordinarily one fushi⁵ should be present.

     At the beginning⁶ a shorter [pole] should be used; afterwards, when tea will be served, a longer one should be used to raise [the covering] higher.


¹While the text of the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho should have been concluded with Rikyū’s kaō (at the end of the previous post)*, a copyist† seems to have found several additional entries, which, rather than incorporating them into the body of the document, he appended to its end (probably in the order in which the pieces of paper were stacked together underneath the manuscript of the previous densho).  Since they follow Rikyū’s signature, and so would not likely have been part of the original densho with which they are now associated, I have treated this brief series of entries as an appendix to the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Densho, and modified the title accordingly.  

     None of these entries are part of either the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho or the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Fukuro-dana Densho, though two of them can be found in others of his writings.
*This is the purpose of the kaō, to close the document. 

     Postscripts (traditionally introduced by the word mata [又], as in this case) have, of course, been recognized as a literary possibility at least since the Heian period, but were always considered poor form (in the Genji Monogatari, for example, the only person to make use of the device is Tō-no-chūjō’s illegitimate daughter from Ōmi, and the use immediately marks Ōmi-no-kimi as an uncultured bore).

†Perhaps the person responsible for making what became the sole surviving copy of the manuscript (if we assume that the errors in this are cumulative rather than the work of a single ignoramus).  What is curious (and very interesting) is that a number of documents that were preserved in the Shū-un-an (or related to that collection of papers) appear to have been made in Oribe’s handwriting.  The photographic evidence published in the Rikyū Daijiten, however, is insufficient for me to reach any conclusion with respect to this present densho and its appended entries.

²Mata [又]: and again.   (Even though the text of the densho has been concluded, apparently it has not.)

     The original documents (that constituted the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Densho and the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho) were probably written on single lengths of paper, and only later divided into separate leaves* — some of which were lost, and the rest found themselves disarranged†.  

     Over the years it has been mentioned several times (including in a note written by Tachibana Jitsuzan to discuss his findings) that after Nambō Sōkei’s disappearance (and presumed suicide), when the Shū-un-an was finally opened (and then formally sealed), a chest was discovered containing “a large number” of random scraps of paper, in addition to several notebooks and some better organized sets of papers‡.  Apparently the entries that follow in this Appendix attempt to document at least part of the hodgepodge of scraps**.
*Perhaps this was done by Nambō Sōkei himself, as a way to protect the writings from the kinds of deterioration that rolls of paper are prone to develop.

†On the 28th day of the Third Lunar Month of Bunroku[文禄四年 = 1595], when he had finished writing his oboegaki [覺書] (what is now known as the seventh book of the Nampō Roku) on the third anniversary of Rikyū’s seppuku, Nambō Sōkei put all of his papers into a chest, and then ran off to the mountains to do away with himself before the day was over.  It is reasonable to assume (since dying on the same day as Rikyū would have been his priority) that he did not take the time to put his papers in order.  This possibly accounts for the jumbled state of the documents, and the copyist may deserve blame only for not attempting to bring order to this confusion.  (I should add, however, that in those days — centuries before the Xerox machine had been invented and patented — it was considered sacrilegious to modify any document being copied, in any way whatsoever.  In theory at least, one was even supposed to attempt to imitate the actual writing style — in so far as that was possible.)

‡The latter became the basis for the book that is now known as the Nampō Roku.

**Presumably in the order in which they were found.  They are not part of the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho, though two of the three are known from other writings of Rikyū.  (In this sense, if we view the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Densho and Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho as being copies of Rikyu’s writings made by someone else, and intended to preserve their salient points, then these three entries fit the category perfectly.  But since the contents of the two original densho were apparently changed to at least some extent when they were copied, it is not easy to explain why the copyist chose to append these three entries to the end, and even more inexplicable when we consider that the third of the entries is situated in the middle of the second, effectively dividing that entry into two parts, since the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Densho and Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho are essentially spurious in their present form in any case — though the teachings which they document are all completely authentic).

³Tsuki-mado [つき窓 = 突き窓] refers to what is usually known as the tsuki-age mado [突き上窓] today.  Tsuku [突] means to thrust (outward); tsuki-agaru [突き上がる] means to thrust (or push) upward.  It is also possible that the word was understood to mean tsuki-mado [月窓], that is a “moon-window” (a window made to let in the moonlight).  Rikyū’s use of kana when writing the name may thus indicate a degree of flexibility with regard to the actual derivation of the word.

     Be that as it may, tsuki[age]-mado refers to a special window cut in the slanting roof of the sukiya, to allow light into the room (on a moon-lit night, or at dawn) when the other windows are covered by their wooden shutters (secondarily, it also assists in the ventilating of the smaller rooms since the loosely covered shitaji-ado will be less effective outlets for the gases of combustion).

     The photos below show the tsuki-age mado (from outside and within) in the Jo-an teahouse of Oda Urakusai.


     This kind of window is said to have been created by Hideyoshi’s adopted heir Hidetsugu*.  Rikyū was deeply impressed by its effect, and soon after made such a window in his own (2-mat daime) tearoom†. 

     Oribe, likewise, was charmed by the tsuki-age mado, and subsequently made it a feature of his tearooms as well (from wence it became a standard feature of the sukiya under the machi-shū).
*Who would have been in his ate teens or early 20s at the time.  In general, it is the young men who were the great innovators, while their elders upheld the traditions against which the innovations were judged, and either accepted or rejected.  That Rikyū immediately adopted Hidetsugu’s innovation (after but a single encounter) shows how open his mind was to the evolving nature of chanoyu, regardless of the source of the innovation.

†This is most effective in rooms of the 2-mat daime size and larger.

⁴Three different lengths of bamboo pole were made so that the host could control the size of the aperture, according to the atmospheric and astrological conditions.

     If the moonlight is very bright, for example, then it might be better to open the tsuki-age mado only a little, so as not to create a spotlight effect*; however, at dawn, when the light is naturally diffuse, it is better to open the tsuki-age mado wider.
*Like the tankei, the illumination provided by the tsuki-age mado was intended to brighten the room in general, rather than focus an intense beam of light directly onto a certain area. 

     This point was misunderstood during the Edo period (perhaps due to the use of similar lighting effects for precisely the purpose of spotlighting the actors in the kabuki theater — the most influential and all-pervading medium of the day), when some chajin began to cut multiple tsuki-age mado in the ceilings of their tearooms, in order to create a studied theatrical effect (that surely would have shocked Rikyū to his core).

Fushi wo tada hito-fushi oki-koto nari [ふしをたゝ一ふし置事也 = 節を只一節置事也].   Fushi [節] means the nodes or joints on a bamboo clum.  Generally a narrow variety of bamboo with fairly long internodes should be used, so that (as indicated) only one node is present on the length used to prop the tsuki-age mado open.

⁶At the beginning of the gathering, i.e., during the sho-za.

     The idea follows from the notion that the sho-za should be in [陰], yin (and so darker), and the go-za yō [陽], yang (brighter)*.

     In Rikyū’s period he tsuki-age mado was usually pushed open when the guests were not present (before the host went out to greet them at the beginning to invite them in, and during the naka-dachi

     From the Edo period, the tsuki-age mado came to be opened later (especially at dawn gatherings, which now commenced with the guests assembling in the koshi-kake in the depths of the night so that dawn would break during the naka-dachi, rather than when the guests first arrived as had previously been done in the days of Jōō and Rikyū)  — with the host often asking one of the guests to push it open (since, being over their seats, it is not easy for the host to get to without disturbing the guests).
*While the yin-yang nature of the za technically derives from the condition of the water in the kama (cold water is yin, while boiling water is yang), employing things of a similar character (for example, writings, as “footprints” are yin; flowers, as living things, are yang) during the respective za has been done at least since the days of Jōō.

Rikyū Densho — the Private Writings of Sen no Rikyū: IVa. The Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho (O. According Ones Temae with the Way of Suki; and a Kyōka Poem by Jōō, and One by Rikyū)

(25) In the Way of Suki, what is said to be a beautiful temae is one that is modest¹.  Just as a dead tree breaks under the weight of snow, one should constantly endeavor to be yielding²; and while performing [your] temae, again, if one appears to be yearning³ [for perfection], this is a mistake.  One should practice to be competent.

(26) In Jōō’s one volume of writings is found this kyōka:

     “If on his name only admiration is heaped, then, so far as this Way [is concerned], he had better die — so people can talk [freely]!⁴”

so it may be read.  Then afterwards a foolish poem⁵ was added, this and nothing else⁶:

     “With respect to wabi-suki, I am like a floating water-weed without roots:  if anyone calls out to me, I will make a mistake, I think.⁷”

          Tenshō 9 (Year of the Snake), 11th day of the Ninth Lunar Month.

                                                      Sōeki (kaō)⁸   


¹In the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Fukuro-dana Densho, the matter is approached from the opposite direction — that the Way of Suki “has nothing to do with being clever; but neither should it be half-done.”  The concluding statement that “one should practice to be competent” alludes to this idea.

     In the Tenshō Ku-nen Ki-mei Fukuro-dana Densho, the kanji for the word tashinami [嗜み], meaning modesty, humility, decency, and so on — which is written in kana as tashinami [たしなミ] — was suggested to be

(this rendering is, however, not a recognized kanji, and someone has questioned the form by inserting the kana ka [カ] in the margin, meaning that the kanji is doubtful).

     The correct kanji is composed of several recognizable parts:  口 + 老 + 曰.  Whomever suggested the erroneous kanji was probably trying to remember it from its parts (which, I can add, is quite common and usual).

²Just as the branch breaks under the weight of the accumulated snow, so you should “go with the flow” rather than trying to micromanage every aspect of the service of tea.

³Shiborashii [しほらしき = 思慕らしい]:  to have a yearning for, or deep attachment to, something.  In this case, for and to perfection, to performing ones temae beautifully.  This, as the sentence concludes, is a mistake.

Na ni medete / kakeru bakari zo / kono michi wo // ware wo shiheshi to / hito ni kataru na [名にめでゝかけるばかりぞ此道を、我をしへしと人にかたるな].  The poem means that if people are afraid to criticize due to ones perceived eminence, then perhaps he should die, so the real truth — an honest assessment — will come out.

     A kyōka [狂歌] is a comic verse, or one written in that form.

Gu-ei [愚詠]:  a foolish poem.  Unlike a kyōka, which is usually a serious attempt at poetic expression* (albeit with a comic twist), this verse is just plain nonsense.
*The kyōka is an acknowledged form of poetic composition, and has been recognized as such for almost as long as poetry has existed in Japan.

⁶Is it sarcasm?  Is it a commentary on Jōō’s verse?  Is this a case of the mother crane calling (Jōō’s kyōka), and its chick responding (this appended gu-ei)? 

     Nothing else was written* that could give the reader a clue as to what this gu-ei was supposed to mean, and Rikyū (or the person who made the copy) is simply quoting it here without judgment or opinion.
*There is a suggestion here that the original Jōō document was read (or purported to have been reviewed) by whomever wrote this manuscript.  (The context appears to suggest that the gu-ei was not written by Rikyū himself.)  This person found the foolish poem scribbled in the margin, and is confused over its implications.

⁸Rikyu’s kaō signs the document (the name Sōeki is not spelled out).  There is no recipient mentioned.

     Though the signature certainly suggests that this was intended to be the end of the document, it is followed (in the only known surviving copy of this strange metamorphosis of the documents known as the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Densho and the Nomura Sōkaku-ate Fukuro-dana Densho) by three additional entries*, tacked onto the end in apparently random order. 

     I will begin the translation of these three sections in the next post.
*While there are actually three entries, the second was divided into two parts by the insertion of the third section (how a careful copyist could ever do such a thing is beyond my abilities to comprehend), so a casual examination of the original document gives one the impression that there are possibly four appended sections.

     None of the three form a part of the original Nomura Sōkaku-ate  Densho or the Nomura Sōkaku-ate  Fukuro-dana Densho, but two of them are known from Rikyū’s other writings — while the third (the one that is divided into two parts) seems to be a fragment of an order sent by Rikyū to one of the wood-workers he employed to make his tana-mono.. More will be said about this later.