usedteabowlToday, I did a tea demonstration at a junior high school. The school had no tatami mat room, so we used three rolling platforms set up in the first years classroom. One of the teachers brought in a display of sumi-e that the students had done to hang up in the background.

The theme of the demonstration was international cultural exchange, so I begin with talking to the students about how it was important to know your own culture, so then you will be able to share it with others who are interested. I also explained how Japanese culture has gained some popularity overseas and how the Daisosho and Oiemoto of Urasenke want to use to tea to spread understanding and peace throughout the world.

Next, I performed ryakubon temae. During this time the students just sat and watched, although I had one of the drink the tea I made. When speaking, I used only English, and asked the students to try to see what words they can hear. Personally, if you want to seriously study, it is important to learn Japanese. Even when I first started learning tea and didn’t speak a word of Japanese, I struggled and remembered phrases like “Osaki ni”, and “Otemae chodai itashimasu”. However, learning a foreign langauge is a rather high barrier, so for those studying tea casually, or for those who are just participating as a guest, we should use English, and make it easy to understand. Plus this demonstration was technically an English class.

After watching my temae, the students made pairs. I brought a bowl, chashaku, chasen, and chakin for each pair and kaishi for each student. Using the hot water from my tetsubin and from an electric kettle, they each served a sweet and made tea for each other.

Teabowls for the students to make tea for each other

Teabowls for the students to make tea for each other

The students all enjoyed the sweets. With the poetic name of “Uchimizu” (Scattered Water), I ordered them from a local sweetmaker called Rokkou.

Uchimizu sweets

Uchimizu sweets

Most of them like the matcha too. One of the students used four or five spoonfuls worth of tea in making tea for his partner, which was a little bitter, but over all it was great fun. At the end, the students were also able to make tea for the teachers there. Along with the teachers was one boy of about 6 years of age. His teacher told him the tea was “Karli Soup” (that’s my name), which was incredibly adorable. He drank up all his tea and said afterwards it was delicious. At then end, we had about 15 minutes left of the two hours scheduled for the demonstration, so the students helped wash the bowls, and straighten up.

After the demonstration, the students had school lunch. While originally I hadn’t intended to eat lunch with them, I was able to. School lunch was udon soup, which even when eaten with the utmost care tends to splatter. The science teacher recommended I wear one of the lab coats over my kimono. To my surprise, rather than being at awkward, it worked nicely!

The lab coat fits so nicely over the kimono

The lab coat fits so nicely over the kimono

It was a really wonderful experience, for both me and the students. It certainly wasn’t perfect. The utensils I possess are limited. I don’t have a furosaki and the only kettle I have is the tetsubin. We used a carpeted platform instead of proper tatami. But I feel that although the setting and materials might not be perfect, if you have an earnest love of tea and desire to share and create friendship in the world, you can truthfully communicate tea ceremony.


And a random kimono anecdote
One of my coworkers today joked he didn’t want to be in a picture with me in kimono. The reason was he wasn’t wearing a suit, only a polo shirt, and the formality of clothing would just be too unbalanced. Even worse, the polo shirt was from Uniqlo (a cheap clothing brand). If you are going to wear a polo shirt next to a kimono, it should at least be by Ralph Lauren.


干菓子:宵山駒形提灯(よいやまこまがたちょうちん) 祇園紋団扇
Dry Sweets: Festival’s Eve Horse Lantern and Gion Crested Fans
器:器漆 砂波利写 長寛造
Dish: Lacquered dish, copy of Sahari, by Choukan

花:柿蘭 鉄仙 大紫露草
Flower: Persimmon Orchid, Ironwiz, and Purple Dew Grass
Vase: Saharai Bronze Boat with Seven Treasures

DSCN4714Green Glazed Split Pepper Mukoudzuke (Ryokuyu Wari Sanshou) by Dou’nyuu

This month’s cover is from “Yugi Museum’s Famed Works”
Edo period (17th century) 8.5 cm tall, 12.3 cm in diameter
Editor and Text: KURABAYASHI Shigeyuki, Yugi Museum Curator

The name “split pepper” comes from the shape of the body, which triangular with large notches cut out of it like a sanshou peppercorn which has split open. On explanation says the design is from Hosokawa Sansai, and we can find precedents made for Ohdura and Ueno-ware. This work is quite large and closely resembles tea bowls made by Dounyuu and Kouetsu.

An uneven green glaze is placed over an extremely thin–to the point of disappearing–layer of paste. It allows the yellow colour of the paste to show through bewitchingly, contrasting well with the green glaze. The round base has three small feet and is stamped with Dounyuu’s 「樂」(raku) seal.

It is a ten dish set, which six done in a green glaze and four done in a thicker glaze. “Nonkou-ware Three-leaf Mukoudzuke” is written on the box lid. On the inside of the lid is written “Kanji-san Soushin” with artistic stamps. These refer to various Mid-Edo period Kyoto thread importers and the tea master Sakamoto Shuusai, who are mentioned in the “Record of the Restored Meibutsu of the House of Sen”. It is quite interesting that this work is called “three-leaf” as it is tradition of Shuusai, Karinaka Nakamura (a Kyoto Nishijin brocade merchant), and Yuasa (a Kyoto battery maker).

In this picture, the mukoudzuke holds abalone, young radish leaves, ginger, and rock nori dressed in vinegar, made by Kitchou of Kourai Bridge. The rice and soup bowls are kuro ichimoji wan and the tray is a kuro kamibari oritame zen. They are made by Watanabe Kisaburo II.


緑釉割山椒向付 道入作
監修・文 倉林重幸 湯木美術館学芸員
江戸時代(十七世紀)高8.5cm 胴径12.3cm


As always, you can click on me to make me bigger!

As always, you can click on the photo to make it bigger!

The Kouaka Chaki (lit. Red-Armour Tea Container) was favoured by the fifth Urasenke oiemoto, Jousou Soushitsu. It is hard to see from the photo, but it has a thin black lacquered body and a bright crimson lacquered lid. It’s shape is also a bit unusual.

How to Purify a Kouaka Chaki

  1. Clutching the folded fukusa in your right hand, pick up the kouaka chaki from above with you left hand.
  2. Change your grip to hold the chaki with your right thumb on top and your other fingers on the bottom.
  3. Place it on your left palm.
  4. Purify the chaki as if writing the character 「二」, first the far side.
  5. And then the near side. With the fukusa still clutched in your right hand, change your grip in the same way as before and then set the chaki down in the proper place, holding it from above with the left hand.



DSCN4705Mei: Tsukisamu Anpan (月寒あんぱん)
Sei: Honma of Sapporo
Type: Han-nama-gashi

When I think of “anpan”, I usually imagine the sort of sickeningly sticky anpan found in convenience stores. But this sweet rather is more similar to what is modernly called a manju. In fact, I am not precisely certain the difference between anpan and manju now. Anyway, this is a a round cake of koshi-an made from Hokkaido adzuki beans in a thin moist shell made from wheat. Other ingredients include mizuame and honey.

The reason I originally bought this sweet is because it was first manufactured in Meiji 39 (1906). It is so fascinating to think I can eat almost the same exact sweet as people were eating over 100 years ago.

The name, by the way, means “Cold Moon” and it read with a Japanese reading of “Tsukisamu”. More commonly though, the kanji are reversed and although the meaning does not change, it is read with the Chinese reading of “Kangetsu”.


Mei: Giant Shrimp Crackers (えび大判焼き)
Sei: Mama (ママ) of Chiba Prefecture
Type: Yakikashi

It’s really quite impossible not to love these giant shrimp senbei the size of my head. They are savoury, with a lovely scent of the sea (磯の香り)! Broken into fourths, I think they make a nice snack to serve to guests.


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.






Sweets: Minadzuki (June Sweets)
器:柴陽花鉢 仁阿弥道八造
Dish: Azusai Bowl, Made by Ninamidouhachi
干菓子:青楓 芦
Dry Sweets: Green Maple and Reeds
器:樂 木瓜 慶入造 波燕の絵 土佐光清画
Dish: Mokkou Raku by Keinyuu with a Wave and Sparrow picture by Mitsukiyo

花:捻花 矢筈芒 段菊 桔梗 突抜忍冬 水引
Flower: Twist Flower, Nock Pampas, Bluebeard Chrysanthemum, Bellflower, Honeysuckle, Waterpull
Vase: Eared Basket