(41) 棚に道具一ツ置候時の㕝 [The case where when a single utensil is placed on a tana.]
When one utensil is placed on the tana (this refers to any sort of tana, including both oki-tana and the built-in tsuri-dana of the daime-gamai), and two objects are displayed in the tokonoma, generally speaking this is not an offensive way to arrange things. However, when speaking of placing only one utensil on the tana, by no means should one even consider doing this sort of thing with a newly-made utensil, such a kōgō. Nevertheless, displaying a meibutsu kōgō in this way is acceptable.
When a single object is placed on the tana (and nothing is displayed anywhere else), no matter what kind of thing it might be, there is in fact little to be gained from this sort of arrangement. Thus one must be exceptionally careful when placing out only a single utensil (in the room). When two things are in the tokonoma, then one may be displayed on the tana; or, if a single (object) is placed on the upper shelf, isn’t it logical for two to be put on the lower shelf? With respect to arranging things, on those occasions when we are ultimately responsible, we must exert ourselves to exercise great care. Since when placing something by itself — or arranging the room in whatever way — it is important that we are successful. So we have to consider both the quality of the object, and our reasons for deciding to display it in this way.
(42) 茶入之蓋置處の㕝 [Concerning the places where the lid of the chaire may be set.]
In front of the chawan or at its side, on top of the heri (of the mat), or on top of the ro-buchi, have been the traditional places since ancient times. The practice of leaning it against the handle of the hishaku began with Rikyū, and has been adopted by others. (Kenshin adds that it is his opinion, with respect to placing the lid of the chaire on the robuchi, that first of all, it looks dangerous; and therefore, since it looks as if it might be dangerous, to then do such a thing anyway is worthy of blame.)
The second commentator writing at a later date says, with respect to the places where the lid of the chaire may be placed, between the chawan and the knees is one place; on the right side of the chawan is one place; and leaning it against the lower end of the handle of the hishaku is another place. And again, leaning it against the ro-buchi. Together, this makes four places. However, with respect to placing it on the ro-buchi, on the daime and in other situations where the space in front of the knees is limited, this — or resting it against the handle of the hishaku — is the preferred place to put it. Also, in the case of the furo, it may be placed on the corner of the ko-ita closest to the middle of the mat. However, leaning it against the ro-buchi and placing it on the ko-ita were disliked by Rikyū.
With respect to the ro-buchi, this writer is speaking about something a little different from placing the lid on top of the ro-buchi as in Kenshin’s commentary, and presupposes that the ro-buchi is approximately 5-bu higher than the surface of the mats, rather than being level with them: the question comes down to whether the top of the ro-dan is level with the floor-boards, or is recessed approximately 5-bu below so that when covered with a board as a lid — leaving the ro-dan in place all year round was something that the wabi teamen such as Sōtan did, but a practice which others (particularly many of the daimyō of his period and after) apparently did not follow — the board is then level with the floor boards. I have not been able to discover any overt statement which either Jōō or Rikyū may have made; yet the argument made by Kenshin and others of his period (together with the fact that Rikyū is known to have leaned the wide lid of the daikai against the edge of the ko-ita in just this way — this is in all likelihood the historical precedent upon which this practice mentioned by the later commentator is based) suggests that, at least at that time, the rodan was probably recessed below the level of the floor boards, and so the top of the ro-buchi was indeed on the level of the mats.)
While Rikyū certainly disapproved of placing the lid on the ro-buchi (in the Nampō Roku and in other places he adamantly states that if this is done and then the lid accidentally falls into the ro, the person who did it will be disgraced for life), according to both the Nampō Roku and his own writings, he did not object to placing the chaire-no-futa on the ko-ita. Indeed, in his furo temae it is unavoidable, since once the lid of the kama has been opened to make the first bowl of koicha, it remains open until the end of the temae, and so the handle of the hishaku is no longer available as a place for resting the lid of the chaire when it is opened after this. (It must be remembered that in Rikyū’s temae, even in the last years of his life, an individual bowl of koicha was served to the shōkyaku and a second bowl of koicha was shared between the second and third guests; and he generally continued, at least in the setting of the wabi small room, with the service of usucha using the tea remaining in the chaire afterwards. This all changed when the stewardship of chanoyu passed into Sōtan’s hands: suicha, at least as Sōtan understood the word — meaning passing a single large bowl of koicha among all the guests, with each in turn drinking his allotment out of the common portion — became the absolute rule, and even when usucha was served during the koicha temae, a practice now called tsuzuki-usucha to distinguish it from the service of usucha during a separate temae, this was always to be done using a different kind of tea and so a different tea container, usually a natsume whose lid, due to its shape, is always placed on the mat; and this is the attitude reflected in this seventeenth century commentary.) Also, in the case of the ō-ita, Rikyū states unequivocably that it is an ancient rule that the lid must be placed on the ita (as well as the chakin and the chashaku, the latter placed there from the beginning and never rested on the top of the chaire at all; in this case he states that the chashaku is either cleaned after scooping the tea into the chawan, in the manner of the bon-date temae where the chaire is placed on a tray, or possibly leaned diagonally across a corner of the ō-ita so that the tea will not soil the surface of the board, which follows Oribe’s practice), while these usages are to a greater or lesser extent optional in the case of the ko-ita (the chakin and chaire-no-futa are more usually placed on the ko-ita, at least some of the time; but the chashaku is rarely, and only transiently, placed there). Furthermore, Rikyū said that the lid of the chaire should not be placed directly on the mat, since the gilt part is inserted into the mouth of the chaire afterward, and so will contaminate its contents, while turning the lid upside-down so that it rests on what is the outer surface of the lid, is both cumbersome and looks dangerous. Therefore, only a lid shaped like the yarō-buta [薬籠蓋] — the lids of the natsume and the nakatsugi are examples of such (they were made in this form precisely so that they could be placed on the mat: in gokushin temae, a shiki-shi was placed down first, and so the ivory lid could be rested with the gilt side down on the shiki-shi without concern, but once this base was eliminated, the utensils came to be placed directly on the mat, and this is what prompted the creation of the lids of the nakatsugi and natsume in this shape, to avoid possibly contaminating the contents of the chaire with dust from the mat) — can be placed directly onto the mat. Exceptionally large lids (such as that of the taikai-chaire), which are too large to rest safely on the corner of the shiki-ita, should be leaned against the front of it so that only one edge of the lid (which is on the outside of the mouth when the lid is closed) comes into contact with the mat. This parallels the placement of the lid against the handle of the hishaku. (Some people say that the lid should be rested flat on top of the handle, but this is clearly dangerous; leaning the lid against the side of the handle so that one edge touches the mat and the gilt back of the lid touches the cornered edge of the handle seems to be what Rikyū intended.)
The last commentator (writing in the twentieth century) generally agrees with the others, but adds that it is specifically at a night gathering that the lid should not be placed even in the vicinity of the ro-buchi (that is neither on, nor leaning against, the ro-buchi) for fear that it might slip out of the fingers and fall into the ro. Likewise, he continues, the lid may be placed on the corner of a tana closest to the middle of the mat, but not on the chigai-dana (thus, in the case of the fukuro-dana and Edo-period variants of it which feature a pair of staggered-shelves between the ji-ita and the ten-ita, the lid should be placed on the ten-ita, not on one of the staggered middle shelves which are collectively called the naka-dana). Also, when inspecting the chaire, it is particularly at this time that the lid should be placed on top of the heri of the mat (since everyone always takes care not to step on the heri, it is clean; and because it is made of woven cloth, it does not collect dust the way the coarser surface of woven grass does); or the guest may open his sensu and place the lid there temporarily (since the sensu is rarely opened otherwise in the context of chanoyu, its face is clean; this usage parallels the original use of the shiki-shi on the temae-za) while he looks at the chaire. (In Rikyū’s day, as has already been mentioned elsewhere, tea was precious, and it was felt that the tea became further degraded each time the lid was removed from the chaire, hence for the guests to remove the lid, or even handle the chaire excessively, was considered bad manners.)
(43) 諸道具疊の目心持有之事 [With respect to all of the utensils, one must exercise some care regarding the lines on the tatami.]
All utensils, when placed on the mat, should be placed so that they are aligned with the me. The ko-ita should be aligned with the me on the left (that is, when the furo is placed on the left, the ko-ita is aligned with the me on the side nearest to the katte); on the other side this does not matter. The mizusashi should be aligned with the me on the right (when it is placed on the right side of the mat, which is on the side toward the guests); the correspondence with the me on the left does not matter. (In other words — since Kenshin is writing about the case where the furo is on the left and the mizusashi is on the right — the rule he is alluding to is that utensils placed on the left side of the mat correspond with the me on their left; utensils placed on the right side of the mat correspond with the me on their right.)
The chaire (regardless of the side on which the furo and mizusashi are found) should be placed squarely on a me, so that both sides are equidistant from the neighboring me. The placement of the chawan corresponds to that of the mizusashi (when the mizusashi is on the right side of the mat, the chawan also corresponds with the me on the right; when the mizusashi is on the left, the chawan also corresponds with the me on its left). Form is form, function is function; function is form, form is function: this is the principle which you must endeavor to grasp, Kenshin concludes. (The illustrations have been reproduced at a large size so that the associations with the me may be clearly noted.)
(44) 置合組入という事 [Concerning what is called kumi-ire (‘clustering the utensils together’) when they are arranged on the mat.]
When placing the utensils in the daime-gamai (the space enclosed by the sode-kabe at the head of the daime, in which the mizusashi and other utensils are placed) during the temae, because the space within the enclosure is very limited, the chaire overlaps with the mizusashi on its left side, by perhaps one third or even by up to one half. Overlapping the mizusashi by four me, more or less, in this way the chaire is set down. When it is preferred to place [the chaire] wholly to the side of the mizusashi (this is usually the case when performing bon-date), it is done in the same way (but this time overlapping the mizusashi back-to-front by between one third and one half of its diameter). This is the placement that is referred to as kumi-iri [組入], or clustering together.
[Examples of kumi-ire (“clustering”) on the daime-gamai. In the illustration on the left is an ordinary chaire (right) and chasen (left), with the chaire overlapping the mizusashi by approximately one-third; on the right, a bon-chaire with the chaire beyond the edge of the mizusashi and the tray overlapping it by approximately one third. According to the text, these are the two situations which are called kumi-ire.]
In a [wabi] 4.5 mat room, depending on the position of the mizusashi, when the chaire is placed on the left side of the mizusashi, it is done the same way. And when the chaire is placed on a tray, it may also be placed in just the same manner.
(45) 茶入袋[江]入候㕝 [The way to put the chaire into its fukuro.]
Rikyū taught that the front of the chaire should face toward the host, and in this way it is put into the fukuro (fukuro is the old name for the shifuku). When removing the shifuku, it is rotated by a quarter-turn counter-clockwise so that the uchidome (the braided “tail” on the himo which ends in a little tassel) points to the left side and the front of the chaire is toward the right (so that the host may loosen the himo on the far side and the near side) and then turned back again (i.e., now rotated clockwise) so that the front faces the host again when he slips the shifuku off. (Since the uchidome is on the left, the shifuku has to be flipped over before it is hung on the peg or placed on the shelf; usually this is done under the pretense of smoothing and flattening the cloth.)
Oribe, on the other hand, said that the front of the chaire should face away from the host when it is put into the shifuku (so that both the chaire and the host will face toward the daisu — or the area of the mat which takes the place of the daisu), and then as the shifuku is being removed, the chaire is rotated by a quarter-turn counter-clockwise (so the host may loosen the himo, just as above), and then rotated by a further quarter-turn in a counter-clockwise direction, bringing the uchidome (and so the front of the chaire) to face the host when the shifuku is finally slipped off. The host can then immediately hold the shifuku in his right hand and hang it by the himo on the bamboo peg which has been nailed onto the naka-bashira — which was another creation of Oribe’s — or place it on the shelf or somewhere else, without having to turn it over again first. This was actually Oribe’s point, to minimize the host’s movements to just those that were absolutely necessary, since minimizing his actions is appropriate to the setting of the wabi small room.
[The commentary actually explains the above in terms of rotating the chaire while cleaning it with the fukusa, but since neither Rikyū nor Oribe did this (rotating the chaire while cleaning it with the fukusa was a machi-shū practice, adamantly denounced by Rikyū and disapproved of by Oribe, which became standard fare only upon the advent of Sōtan; yet because Sotan’s style of making tea was, by law, the only way that tea was allowed to be made in the early Edo period, everyone, including the daimyō such as Katagiri Sekishū, accepted this action as proper, and so added it when the commentary was elaborated upon as it passed through his hands). Oribe was the darling of the machi-shū, but rarely or never associated with them in the capacity of host. However, since he was the only one of the early masters and great disciples of Jōō who allowed them into his presence, he was constantly in demand as a guest; and during these gatherings, according to transcripts — Oribe’s teachings are known not through his own writings the way we know about what Jōō and Rikyū taught, but through a collection of documents known as the Furuta Oribe kikigaki [古田織部聞書], the written transcriptions of verbal exchanges which occurred during gatherings at which he was a guest — it seems that little more was done at these gatherings beyond pumping his brain for whatever aspects of chanoyu the others could think to ask about. It is interesting, however, that while Oribe never stints on his answers — and when asked about measurements, for example, he startles and amazes with an almost endless list of numbers measured to a fraction of a bu — he also never offers any information about things not explicitly queried about, no matter how deficient the others clearly were in this basic level of knowledge. This is why the image which survives of Oribe often falls short of that popularly believed to describe the standards of Jōō or Rikyū; however, none of these impressions are correct. Oribe was as strict a follower of the classical traditions as either Jōō or Rikyū, and his innovations — which so often influenced Rikyū and caused this great master to rethink his approach, and more often than not end up agreeing with Oribe and imitating him in the future — startling as they must have seemed to the uninitiated, were always absolutely in accord with gokushin-no-chanoyu and other classical systems of teaching. Yet the surviving version of his teachings is so grossly distorted simply because of the ignorance of his interlocutors, not due to any lack of orthodoxy in his practice of, or opinions on, chanoyu.]
(46) 茶入り[之]緖仕様に口傳あり殊更長緖は別而口傳有べし [There is an oral tradition regarding the way to tie the himo of the chaire's (shifuku); and also, there is a separate oral tradition which refers to the naga-o.]
The general ku-den regarding tying of the himo of the chaire's shifuku (regardless of whether it is long or short) has two parts: 1) knots are always tied in two steps, and the first step is always the same, while the second step is always different. And, 2) (though this second part of the ku-den has mostly been forgotten by the commentators, and the world in general) at the beginning of the temae, the himo should be tied with a slip-knot (that is, a knot which, when pulled in a certain way, opens without involving the fingers); at the end of the temae, the himo should be tied with a locking knot (that is, a knot which requires some deliberate effort to untie). This is the ku-den to which the first part of this line refers.
The reason for using two different kinds of knots was that at the beginning of the temae, the tea is ready for use, and so opening the shifuku should be expedited as much as possible, since the longer the time between the moment when the tea was ground and that when hot water is poured onto it in the chawan, the more the taste and smell of the tea degrades. At the end of the temae, however, the point of tying a locking knot is to prevent the tea from accidentally being reused (once a container of tea had been used to serve koicha, it was felt that it was inappropriate to use that left-over tea to serve koicha again on another occasion — the remaining tea could only be used to possibly serve usucha, but even in this case, not without the chaire being cleaned and readied again first). In both cases, however, the complexity of the knots was intended to prevent the guests from opening the the shifuku at any time — not necessarily because they were suspected of nefarious purposes, but to prevent the tea from being damaged by exposure to air (the purpose of the shifuku is to press the lid tightly against the mouth of the chaire, thus keeping the aromatics responsible for fragrance and taste from volatilizing away into the air; at the end of the temae, even if the remaining tea will not be used again to serve guests, it was still precious, and could be drunk by the host or someone in his household so long as it was not totally spoiled by being left uncovered).
An ancient addendum to this notion of using different knots adds that the knots should contrast their images, with respect to the ying and yang seasons of the year. So, as in the examples below, when the ordinary himo (which was created by Shukō) is being tied in the modified “ordinary dragonfly knot” (which was also devised by Shukō — this is the usual way that a short himo is tied in the modern tea world) at the beginning of the temae (the dragonfly is an autumnal image), at the end of the gathering the knot should be tied in the shape of the mitsu-ba [三ツ葉] (the trefoil is a vernal image) locking knot. And with the naga-o, when it is initially tied in the ordinary dragonfly knot for that style of himo, at the end it is tied in the shape of a cherry-blossom locking knot (again contrasting a yang vernal image at the end of the temae with the ying autumnal image used at the beginning).
In fact, there is an ancient series of paired knots of this type which at the present can be seen in part on the set of knots used to tie the nioi-bukuro [匂い袋] — a set of miniature shifuku intended to each house one specimen of a collection of kyara [伽羅] incense wood chips, held in a small gilt-paper-lined brocade kō-tsutsumi [香包] (the gold-leaf on paper backing of these envelopes parallels that on the inside of the lid of the chaire, which makes them both as impermeable to gaseous exchange as the technology of that day permitted, hence protects the enclosed sample from being contaminated by the smell of others; each kō-tsutsumi was kept in its own shifuku, which further isolated the precious chip of kyara): the set consists of 24, 12 slip knots and 12 locking knots associated with the twelve months of the year. These same knots were also used for chanoyu (among an almost numberless array of others).
According to the Nampō Roku and various other period writings, the original himo was the naga-o [長緖]. And though there were historically numerous complications devised over the years, the standard knot was what was what is known as the “ordinary dragonfly knot” [常ノ蜻蛉結ビ]. (Care must be taken with names, however. The “ordinary” dragonfly knot stands in contrast with various other knots which are also known as dragonfly knots, many of which are much more literally representational of a dragonfly, and much more complicated to tie as well; some, furthermore, are slip-knots and other dragonfly knots are locking knots, while the “ordinary dragonfly knot” is a slip-knot. Especially after the mid-seventeenth century — when it became general knowledge that there existed a body of “secret” Jōō and Rikyū writings which differed substantially from what Sōtan and his followers, the government-sponsored official school, taught — if a chajin knew, or was accosted with, the name but did not know the actual knot, he tended to make up a new one rather than admit his ignorance. The “ordinary dragonfly knot” will be illustrated below, at the end of this line’s commentary.)
Shukō, in that work and elsewhere, is credited with creating the short himo (and the two knots associated with it), originally for his katatsuki-chaire when it was used to serve usucha. (In other words, Shukō used a ko-tsubo in a shifuku with a naga-o which was placed on a tray to serve koicha, and then a katatsuki in a shifuku with a short himo which was placed directly on the mat with the chashaku resting across its lid to serve usucha.) Shifuku featuring this short himo quickly became the usual situation, since this knot is easier to tie and on the whole it is easier to use. Shukō’s locking knot, which was rendered useless when haiken was pushed to the very end of the temae, is conserved (as are some of the other locking knots related to the naga-o) as the yasumi-musubi, the way to tie the himo when the chaire is in storage.
[The shita-musubi or lower knot on a shifuku with a short himo.]
[The “ordinary dragonfly” slip-knot for a shifuku with a short himo.]
[The “trefoil” locking knot for a shifuku with a short himo.]
When tying the himo, Kenshin notes, first of all the himo must be straight; it should not be twisted or bent (see the illustrations below for what straight means). This is one of the orally transmitted points, mentioned as being particularly important in the context of the naga-o. Next, as in the more general pronouncement given above, the himo is tied in two steps. The first step, as stated above, is always the same, regardless of the final shape of the knot; and the second step is always different (that is, unique or peculiar to the kind of knot being tied). This constitute the second of the oral teaching related to the naga-o. And the third is when tying and untying the naga-o, it is grossly displeasing if it comes undone or fails to untie properly, or the himo becomes tangled up. One should pay very careful attention to the instructions received from ones teacher.
The commentary concludes that when Katagiri Sekishū was learning how to tie the naga-o, he spent three years of intensive concentration and effort before he could master the techniques. This, then, is not a matter to be taken lightly.
[The shita-musubi or lower knot on a shifuku with a naga-o.]
[The “ordinary dragonfly” slip-knot for a shifuku with a naga-o.]
[The “cherry-blossom” locking knot for a shifuku with a naga-o.]
(47) いろりのうち仕様之事 [The matter of how to deal with the interior of the irori.]
Points to consider are the height of the gotoku. The depth of the ash (this refers to the ash on the sides of the ro, not in the center under the kama — within the circle defined by the gotoku, the ash should be of such a depth that the top of the charcoal comes to between 5-bu and 1-sun of the bottom of the kama): in cold weather the mounded ash surrounding the fire should be shallower (that is, the mounds should not rise very high up the legs of the gotoku, so that the sight of the fire, and its heat, will be available to the guests); when it is warm, the ash should be mounded deeper (according to some old records, rising more than half-way up the legs of the gotoku — in some, even to approximately the same height as the charcoal within, and so appearing to be just short of the kama itself — to both hide all sight of the fire, and concentrate its heat on the bottom of the kama). Likewise, the amount of ash present in the corners (where the air flows down into the depths of the ro, to well up again along the sides of the kama) depends on the size of the kama (the host can control the rate of combustion by restricting or opening the space available for air to flow down into the ro, but this is also connected with the size of the kama, since its bulk may limit the flow of air as well). When the charcoal is added, and then the shiro-zumi [白炭 = eda-zumi, 枝炭: gesso-covered carbonized forked azalea twigs], it is proper that the latter should rub against the bottom of the kama slightly (their purpose is to act as kindling, to draw the flow of hot air up to and so around the bottom and sides of the kama, thus initiating the updraft of air and allowing the rest of the charcoal to catch fire easily and efficiently).
It is best if instruction in the way to handle the ash is carefully received directly from ones teacher.
(48) いろり五徳すへやうの㕝 [The matter of adjusting the height of the gotoku in the irori.]
The gotoku is used with the ring on the bottom, and the legs pointing upward. The third leg (counting from the leg on the left, this means the one on the host’s right) should face directly into the corner (the dōzumi will be placed between this leg and the leg at the far side of the ro — see illustration below, under line 49). The other two face the ro-dan however they may, so long as the ring is centered within the ro itself. And the claws (the oval or leaf-shaped ends of the legs on which the bottom of the kama rests) should all be at the same level. The height, as said before, depends entirely on the kama.
As has been mentioned in the Hundred Poems of Chanoyu, the height of the gotoku should be adjusted so that the mouth of an ordinary kama (one with a raised mouth) will project 6- or 7-bu above the upper surface of the ro-buchi. In the case of an uba-guchi kama (one with a recessed mouth), the upper edge of the recessed rim of the mouth (on which the lid rests when closed) should be 6- or 7-bu below the level of the upper surface of the ro-buchi.
(49) 灰のふかきあさき仕様又朝晝晩の事 [Concerning the depth or shallowness of the ash; and again, this with respect to morning, mid-day, and evening.]
This line has some connection with the practice known as san-tan san-ro [三炭三炉], maintaining the fire throughout the whole day by periodically adding more charcoal and taking care of the ash.
In the early morning, the bottom of the ash (within the space defined by the gotoku) is deep. This is known as ido-no-hi [井戸の火], fire in the well: very small burning embers are placed at the bottom, then ash is sprinkled lightly on top of them (to provide a warm and, as the embers burn away, air-filled base for the fire, so that the moisture in the shimeshi-bai will evaporate readily and create an updraft, which will start the cycle which allows the depths of the ro to be properly aerated), and on top of this the fire is arranged. Care should be taken when sprinkling on more ash that this base (of ash filled with embers) does not compact (since this defeats its purpose). As the day progresses from mid-day until night, the ash gradually accumulates, so that the surplus might have to be removed or the base for the fire will become too high.
There is this ku-den related to morning, mid-day and dusk: from the morning, each time charcoal is added, the ash continues to accumulate; therefore, if one needs to deal with the bottom (that is, if the level of the ash is too high and so some must be removed), ash should be removed only from the far side of the fire (that is, the where the smaller pieces of charcoal and the butt-ends of the eda-zumi are placed when adding charcoal). As the day progresses toward evening, more and more of the ash may be removed from the forward side of the fire as well (in san-tan san-ro, the bottom is fully taken up at dusk, in preparation for a possible night gathering, whether or not one is scheduled; this is what the commentary is referring to; however, since the ro is already hot, the initial step of burying fine embers under a layer of sprinkled ash is not necessary, and so should not be done). In morning, mid-day, and at night, equally, if one makes a sincere effort every time, he will come to understand how to do this naturally.
(50) 圍炉裏のはいの㕝 [Concerning the ash for the irori.]
This line concerns the damp layer of maki-bai [蒔灰], sprinkled-on ash, that is used to dress the surface of the ordinary wood ash with which the ro is mostly filled. This damp ash is generically called shimeshi-bai [濕し灰] or shike-bai [濕氣灰].
The commentary in the Kenshin manuscript states that in remote antiquity what is called arare-bai [霰灰] — ash prepared so that it is formed into small pellets which look like hailstones — did not exist. Only mijin-no-hai [微塵ノ灰] was use.
The word mijin refers literally to a kind of crumbling mountain soil or clay (it begins to crumble when the moisture content declines to a certain point that the mass begins to fracture into tiny particles, and this was apparently what gave someone the original idea for shimeshi-bai). It has a consistency and texture very close to that of used coffee-grounds (including their moisture content). This term mijin, since it is often not qualified by the word hai in the old tea documents, though still referring to this a kind of damp ash when used in the context of chanoyu, confused some Edo period commentators who took it to mean that in ancient times actual mountain sand or clay was used in the ro: however, mountian clay will smell very bad as the organic material in it burns, and sand will tend to pop or explode when in direct contact with the burning charcoal; and, further, sand will do nothing to enhance the flow of air, while the moisture present in a sprinkled layer of damp ash, as it evaporates, causes a strong updraft which pulls fresh air into the depths of the ro through the corners and thus establishes a strong fire from the beginning. In recent years a very fine commercially prepared shimeshi-bai has come on the market, in contrast to the original coarser variety: this fine ash is mijin.
On one occasion when he went to rest at the Arima onsen (it is within the present city of Kobe), Rikyū noticed that the crumbling scree piled up against the side of the cliff looked new and interesting, and from this he got the idea to make arare-bai, so it has been said.
Refined ash is ash which has been carefully sifted to remove any sort of waste material (such as bits of charcoal and other dirt), and only this should be used to prepare arare-bai (the suggestion is also that when reusing ash, it must be broken down into a powder and sifted first before it can be reused). Very old ash (which has darkened in color) is preferred. It is then soaked in water for approximately half of a day. The water should be poured off, and the wet ash spread uniformly on a piece of shibu-kami [渋紙] — paper that has been treated with shibu which renders it more or less waterproof, so it will not tear from the moisture — and allowed to dry out somewhat (until it achieves the consistency of set cement). If this refined ash (wrapped in the piece of shibu-kami) is then struck against a board, it will break up into particles of three sizes: large, small, and very-small. These are then separated by shaking it slowly in a circular fashion in a series of sieves (which also forms the pieces into balls which resemble hailstones) and then recombined to the proportion of three shō [升] — the volume measure of one shō is equal to 1.8 liters, so three shō is about 5.4 liters — large particles (which is to say, particles about the size of azuki beans), four shō (7.2 liters) of mixed small particles and very small particles, and three shō (5.4 liters) of mijin. The medium-sized (i.e., “small”) particles should be about the size of grains of sansho or pepper corms; the very-small fraction consists of particles smaller than a grain of sansho, perhaps the size of a mustard seed, so it is said. Mixing all of this gives one to [斗] — 18 liters — of arare-bai.
To prepare a storage vessel for the arare-bai, sake and water are mixed half-and-half and put into an old wooden sake cask (so that they infiltrate into the wood), which is then put under the veranda and allowed to dry by evaporation until no more puddled moisture is evident. The above mixture of ash particles may then be stored in the cask; the sake-water mixture soaking into the wood of the cask causes a darkening of the color of the ash that is stored in it (in addition to preventing the wood from drawing the moisture out of the shimeshi-bai).
Another commentator adds that once Jōō happened to notice a section of a path paved with chestnut-sized pebbles and was moved to think that something like this would be a delightful effect to replicate in the ro. So he made rather large katamari [塊], lumps or small balls, of damp ash (of a more or less uniform in size, and somewhere between the size of a pea and a soybean) and used only this to surface the ash in the ro. This ash is called kuri-ishi hai [栗石灰].
Rikyū (this author continues), at a later time, noticed the scree pile at the foot of the mountain cliff at Arima, and created arare-bai as a mixture of various sized particles mixed with more finely-sifted mijin, as recounted in the above story.
As the number of practitioners increased, old ash became scarce or not available at all, so rather than soaking the ash in plain water as the first step in the process of making damp ash, some sort of dye was used — originally this was the left-over bath of boiled cloves in which used clothing was recolored (this was often employed in the temples to produce “new” clothing for the novices from old clothes cast off by the more senior monks, which young monks came to be recognized as such by the brown or ocher-colored clothes which they wore: the photo at the right shows a shifuku made of the finely striped dark-blue-and-white cloth known as Kokushi-kantō, one half of which was dyed afterwards with cloves, giving an appearance of rust-orange-and-black; this cloth was originally used to make monkish clothing, while the redyed stuff was used for the clothing of novices).
As the trade with China, the usual source of the dried cloves used to make this dye, lapsed from the late sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth centuries, locally available substitutes were sought for; and the most common of these was made by boiling ban-cha (this is a coarse variety of tea made from mature leaves which have been sun-dried for several days — and left in situ on exposed straw mats out of doors over night — thus much richer in the brown-staining tannins than tea which has been dried more quickly over a heat source) into a strongly colored tea for coloring the ash. Cloves were originally to dye reused clothing used because, in addition, to their pleasing color, they leave a fragrance which may mask the odor of rarely-washed bodies, at least for a while (or so it is said).
A final word on arare-bai, kuri-ishi hai and mijin. Mijin, when prepared properly so that it has the proper moisture content, is very easy to pour off of the haisaji; unfortunately it does not do much to enhance the scenery in the ro. Kuri-ishi hai is rather like carrying marbles on a spatula, and dropping cherry bombs (every time one hits the white ash that has come off of the burning charcoal, you get your own little mushroom cloud) — I have no idea how, or even if, Jōō did it! (My private suspicions are that he simply put the kuri-ishi hai into the ro, which will provide excellent aeration given the plethora of air spaces between the balls of ash, without sprinkling anything on top during the sumi-temae. — in the case of the furo, no makibai is used at all, and so Jōō may have simply utilized this precedent to do nothing.) In arare-bai, Rikyū found the perfect compromise. It pours off the haisaji like mijin, and provides an interesting texture as well. Hence it is not surprising that this way of handling the ro has persisted down to the present.