Eight-Ten: Fukusa

Fuku-sa, 帛紗, cloth-gauze, purple silk; 9 x 9.5 sun kane-jaku or 7.2 x 7.6 sun kujira-jaku.  The fuku-sa, 帛紗, cloth-gauze, is a square of silk fabric that is used by the host, tei-shu, 亭主, house-master, to purify utensils. The piece is made of a rectangle 1 x 2 kane-shaku, that is folded in half and hemmed on three sides. When not being used, the fukusa is folded in half diagonally twice, and tucked under the obi, 帯, sash, to the side.    Before purifying certain Tea utensils, the fukusa is examined and folded, which is called fukusa sabaki. There is an issue with the word sabaki, as there...

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Opening the Furo: Shoburo

Photograph of a hypothetical arrangement of the relationship between the fu-ro, 風炉, wind-hearth, on the left, and the ro, 炉, hearth, on the right. This is to show the similarities and differences between them. The futa, 蓋, and the futa-oki, 蓋置, lid-place, for the furo, are to the left, whereas the futa and futaoki of the ro are to the right. This may be reflected in the ancient pair of Chinese lions that guard the entrance to the imperial palace, and other important places. The male, on the left, has his right paw on a decorative ball, and the female, on the right, has a playful baby...

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Opening the Furo: Tsumami

In the realm of Chanoyu, water for tea is heated in a kama, 釜, kettle, placed over a fire. The fire is usually made with sumi, 炭, charcoal. According to Japanese domestic tradition, a fire is kept in an i-ro-ri, 囲炉裏, enclose-hearth-inner, which is a hearth set in the floor where a kettle of water is continually maintained. This confines the fire to a fixed place, making it impossible to prepare tea away from the fire. That issue is resolved by the use of an ancient, portable hearth, such as the familiar hi-bachi, 火鉢, fire-bowl, which is moved and placed anywhere heat is needed.  The furo can...

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Tango no Sekku

Tan-go no Se-kku, 端午の節句, Begin-(zodiac) horse’s Season-phase, was originally a day when women purified the house by thatching the roof above the entrance to the house, with shō-bu, 菖蒲, iris-rush, and yomogi, 蓬, mugwort, artemisia. These herbs are said to be beneficial for healing, and in the past were believed effective in repelling evil spirits, and for women to rest their bodies. The bundle of iris and mugwort was also put in the soaking bath, fu-ro, 風呂, wind-spine, shō-bu-yu, 菖蒲湯, iris-rush-hot water. Later, in the Kama-kura, 鎌倉, Sickle-storehouse, period (1185–1333), Tango no Sekku was changed to a day for boys when the samurai class took control of...

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Hōunsai Konomi: Celebrating 101 Years

Kake-jiku, 掛軸, hang-scroll, with calligraphy, San-shoku Shō-jō-shin, 山色清浄身, Mountain-color pure-pure-body, by Hō-un-sai, 鵬雲斎, ‘Phoenix’-cloud-abstain, written prior to 1976. The text likens the landscape to the body of the Buddha.     Hō-un-sai, 鵬雲斎, ‘Phoenix’-cloud-abstain, is the Buddhist name of Sen Sō-shitsu, 千宗室, Thousand Sect-room, XV Ie-moto, 家元, House-origin, Headmaster of Ura-sen-ke, 裏千家, Inner-thousand-family; 1913-present. Since his retirement, he is called Gen-shitsu, 玄室, Mystery-room, and is called Dai-sō-shō, 大宗匠, Great-sect-artisan.  In the family of Urasenke, the presiding head master, iemoto, is named Sō-shitsu, 宗室, Sect-room. This was established by Rikyū’s grandson, Sō-tan, 宗旦, Sect-dawn, when he divided his family into four branches, naming each of his sons as...

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Rikyū Konomi: Favored Tea Utensils

Sen no Rikyū was and remains the leading influence of Chanoyu and Japanese culture. Many of the utensils used in Chanoyu were and are the konomi, or choice, of Sen no Ri-kyū, 千利休, Thousand Rich-quit. Konomi or konomu, 好, means fond, pleasing, like something, wish, desire, choice, preference, etc. Many of the utensils were created bearing the choice or taste of Rikyū. For example, he worked together with a Korean potter, Chō-ji-rō, 長次郎, Lengthy-next-son, in the creation of ceramic wares that became known as Raku-yaki, 楽焼, Pleasure-fired. Artists and craft persons were inspired by these works and copied them, establishing various traditions. Rikyū had many associates and...

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Lunar Hina Matsuri and the Rhombus

Kake-mono, 掛物, hang-thing, displaying a shiki-shi, 色紙, color-paper, with calligraphy, Bu-ji kore ki-nin, 無事是貴人, No-matter is noble-person, written by Matsu-naga Gō-zan, 松長剛山, Pine-ever Strength-mountain, abbot of Kō-tō–in, 高桐院, High-paulownia-temple, sub-temple of Dai-toku-ji, 大徳寺, Great-virtue-temple, Kyōto. Signed: Murasaki-no Gō-zan, 紫野剛山, Purple-field Strength-mountain, and red ink stamps for the temple and the abbot. Kōtōin is the family temple of the Hoso-kawa, 細川, Narrow-river, clan, founded by Taka-oki, 忠興, Loyal-revive, who is also named San-sai,三斎, Three-abstain. He was one of Rikyū’s most devoted followers, and was married to Gracia, the daughter of the traitorous Akechi Mitsuhide. Murasakino is an area in the northern part of Kyōto, and is the location...

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Hina Matsuri

A lavish display of hina Nin-gyō, 雛人形, chick Person-form, dolls modeled on Japan’s Heian imperial court displayed on a seven-tier stand, with the emperor and empress on the top tier. Such a collection is given to celebrate the birth of a girl, and there are countless variations on this particular scene and arrangement of the dolls. Every year on the third day of the third month the dolls are displayed for the celebration of Hina Matsuri, 雛祭, Doll Festival. The dolls are for display only, but because children love to play, often a little girl’s much-loved doll might join the scene. Note the Tea utensils on the...

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Sukigi Gama

Suki-gi gama, 透木釜, pass through-wood kettle, tetsu, 鉄, iron, with wide flaring hane, 羽, wing, with overall pattern of shiki matsu-ba, 敷松葉, spread pine-leaves (needles). With lid of Kara-kane, 唐銅, Tang-copper, bronze, by Taka-hashi Kei-ten, 高橋敬典, High-bridge Respect-celebrate, Nin-gen Koku-hō, 人間国宝, Person-interval National-treasure. The diameter of the body of the kama is 8.5 sun kane-jaku, and the diameter of the hane is 8.5 sun kujira-jaku. The hane rests on sukigi, wooden blocks, placed on the copper ro-dan, 炉壇, hearth-foundation. The ro-buchi, 炉縁, hearth-frame, has a thinly applied black-lacquer finish called kaki-awase, 掻合, scrape-gather, which shows the wood grain beneath. Pairs of suki-gi, 透木, clear-wood, large planks for ro, sakura, 桜, cherry; L. 3.9 x .8 x .7 sun kane-jaku, shown with kujira mono-sashi, 鯨物差し, whale bend-span thing-distinction, ruler;...

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Hishi Mochi and Hina Matsuri

O-dai-ri-sama, お内裏様, Hon.-inner-back-forms, the principle figures of the dolls of Hina Matsuri, 雛祭り, Chick Festival, representing the emperor on the right and the empress on the left. Hina Matsuri is part of the time of the year named Momo no se-kku, 桃の節句, Peach’s divide-season, observed on the 3rdday of the 3rd month according to the lunar calendar, however in modern times it is most often celebrated on March 3. Placed before the figures pictured above are rhombus-form sweets called hishi mochi, 菱餅, diamond mochi, that are presented on hishi dai, 菱台, diamond supports. Part of the display are a sa-kon no sakura, 左近桜, left-near ’s cherry, a...

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