Nakabushi and Tenbushi Futaoki. Also, the hishaku’s gou is 1 sun 9 bu to 2 sun large with the ro and 1 sun 7 bu to 8 bu large with the furo

This month’s Tankou had an article talking about the differences between Furo and Ro. While the things it mentions are fairly basic, I think it is easy to get them mixed up, especially if you haven’t studied tea that long. Two differences that I forget/mix up still are shifting towards the kensui when retreating from the tea room, and the position of pointer finger when holding the hishaku. What other differences are there between furo and ro?

The Difference in Utensils Between Furo and Ro
A bamboo futaoki is generally used for hakobi temae, and the position of the bamboo joint differs from furo to ro. In furo, it is a “tenbushi” (the joint is towards to top) and in ro, it is a “nakabushi” (the joint is around the middle). There are also special futaoki with two or more joints. There is an anecdote which says that Rikyuu told his sons Douan and Shouan to make a futaoki. One of them made a “tenbushi” one and other made a “nakabushi” one. Both of them being beautiful so hating to discard either one, Rikyuu Koji designated them for different using depending on the furo or ro, it is said.

The size of the gou of the hishaku (the cup) also differs. On a whole, the gou used with the furo is smaller. However, if a hanging kettle or a tsutsugama is used with the ro, a smaller hishaku can be used along with it. The difference of the hishaku is not limited to just the size of the gou. The kiridome (end) of the hishaku handle also differs. In order that the front side of the handle is longer for the furo and shorter for the ro, the end of the hishaku is cut diagonally. The reason for this difference is because way the hishaku is placed is different: For the furo it is placed face up and for the ro is it placed face down.
There is a famous poem that can be used to remembering this:

At dusk a gentle breeze blows along the streams of Nara
The only sign of summer is the misogi purification

“禊祓ぞ夏の印” (written with different kanji) can also mean “a sign of summer is the handle cut towards you”.
Translator note!–> The above poem is the 98th poem in the famed collection called “Ogura Hyakunin Shu”

Question: What sort of different utensils are used depending of the furo or ro?

Answer: The furo starts in May when we welcome the hot weather, so we use many dogu that express cool and freshness. The charcoal is shorter and thinner compared to the ro, and since less of it is used, the charcoal utensils are smaller. The kettle becomes smaller and the furo is placed in the corner of the room in order that the guests don’t feel as hot. In reverse, in order to help the guests feel cool, utensils relating to water become larger. For example, as the height of summer is neared, the large “hira-mizusashi” is used. Just viewing it, the guests will be able to feel refreshed. And in the tokonoma a basket vase is used.

A Word from the Teacher
What other differences are there between furo and ro? Let’s take a look at Rikyu’s 100 Proverbs.

“With the furo, the charcoal in a vegetable basket, metal hibashi, a lacquered kougou, and burn sandalwood”
“With the ro, know to use a gourd sumitori, handled hibashi, ceramic kougou, and blended incense”

These teaches us that a woven sumitori, metal hibashi, a lacquered kougou, and wood incense is used with the furo. A dried and hollowed-out goard for sumitori, hibashi with wrapped handles, and ceramic kougou and blended incense is used with the ro. The ro sumitori is not limited to gourds, and baskets can be used too, but when first opening the ro, everybody knows to use a new gourd sumitori.

DSCN4699There is also the poem:

“The furo habouki is a right feather and a ro habouki is a left feather, of course!”

Whether the right side of the habouki feather is wider or the left side changes whether using it with a ro or furo. However, as you progress in your studies, you will find this is not always true such as in a gyakute room.