Some patterned kaishi I have on hand. I personally like watermarked kaishi the best: Elegantly pretty, but subtle.

Teach Us Sensei!
Useful Lessons
Basic Course for Beginners
Text: Satou Ryouko

The other day at a general store, I found some very pretty kaishi paper embossed with snowflakes or figured with flowers. I think I’d like to try using kaishi not just at a tea ceremony, but in everyday life as well. What might be some situations in which to use kaishi?
Also, there was a waka poem hung in the toko at the chakai I went to the other day. Upon inquiry, I was told the paper was “waka kaishi”. What is the difference between this kaishi and the kaishi we use all the time during okeiko. Please teach me.
Respectfully, 2012, October.

Number 10: The Teacher’s Answer
About Kaishi
Like I said in last month’s edition, since it is thought that fundamentally kaishi originates from sandlewood paper or ganpi paper, a plain white colour is fundamental. However in modern times, there is kaishi to which various patterns, watermarks, or embossings have been applied. We can enjoy selecting kaishi to match the season or event. Now, let us introduce some useful ways we can use kaishi.

The Various Uses of Kaishi

  • To Clean Utensils

Kaishi is used on occasions like when the sweets stick to the serving dish, or when clean your bowl during a kaiseki meal. Lacquer ware is very sensitive, so the Japanese paper of kaishi is good at rubbing gently. Use the paper to press down in order to avoid scratching the surface of lacquer ware.

  • As a Saucer

It is considered bad manners to use your hand as a saucer when bringing food up to your mouth. It is polite during a Japanese meal to hold a dish in your hand while eating, but in the case of lacking a dish, you can use kaishi as a saucer. When you are eating something difficult to eat or spitting out seeds, you can hide quickly cover your mouth using kaishi.

  • As a Mat or Coaster

In your own house, you can serve tempura on it, or lay it beneath glasses or cups.

  • As a Money Envelope

Haven’t you ever had to pass small change to your friends when spliting the cost of a restaurant bill or taxi fare? Rather than passing the money to your friends straight from your wallet, kaishi is useful for making a small money envelope.

  • To Wrap Up Leftovers

It is unsightly to leave leftover food in the centre of your plate. Instead, it is smart to wrapped up or cover it with kaishi.

  • For Memos or Short Letters

As kaishi is generally carried in your breast pocket, it can quickly be taken out and used.

There are many other ways you can use such as wiping of the edge of a cup, or using it to take up oil from your skin when fixing your makeup. As the Japanese paper of kaishi is soft and will not hurt your skin, it is excellent for using freely as you like.