Tying the Sanada Himo Musubi

Tying the Sanada himo, 真田紐, True-ricefield braid, ribbon of a hako, 箱, box, containing cha-dō-gu, 茶道具, tea-way-tool. Paper may cover the box to protect writing on the lid. Writing and identification on the front of the box is the shō-men, 正面, true-face.  The style of braid bears the name of Sana-da Masa-yuki, 真田 昌幸, True-field, a warlord of the 16th and 17th century, whose sword handles were bound in cords of such weaving technique.   The continuous braid is laid over the middle of box: it is not folded. The right loose braid is laid over the center and folded and turned under the center, and moved...

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Satsu Bako

Sa-tsu bako, 茶通箱, tea-through box, ki-ji, 生地, life-ground, unfinished kiri, 桐, paulownia. Box intended for the transport of ma-tcha, 抹茶, powdered-tea. As with any fine Japanese object, it is acquired in a box that can be made of wood of various qualities, or paperboard. Tea, that is a gift, may be presented in a box that is also of various types and qualities. In Urasenke tradition, the preferred box is the Rikyū konomi, 利休好, Rikyū choice, ya-rō buta, 薬籠蓋, medicine-basket lid.  It is made of plain wood, ki-ji, 生地, life-ground, unfinished kiri, 桐, paulownia.     The pictured satsu bako is Rikyū konomi. Its measurements are given...

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Chanoyu and the Mirror

In Chanoyu, water is moved with a hi-shaku, 柄杓, handle-ladle, that is made of aged take, 竹, bamboo. The cup is called a gō, 合, join, and the handle is e, 柄. The handle retains the fushi, 節, node, located near the middle of the handle. There are essentially two types of hishaku. The sashi-toshi, 差通, distinct-through, which is the original style with the handle penetrating the side of the cup, and held with a tiny peg. The other type is called tsuki-gata, 月形, moon-shape, where the curved end of the handle is held in side of the cup creating a crescent likened to the moon.   ...

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Sanbō Shintō Offering Stand

The sanbō is made of long thin sheets of wood, sugi, 杉, cedar, or hinoki, 檜 also 桧, cypress, that is scored and bent in a technique called mage-mono, 曲物, bent-thing. The ends of the sheets have a seam, to-jime, 綴じ目, bind-eye. The Kanji 檜 is composed of tree and meeting. It is believed that the etymology of the word hinoki is derived from the word for sun, 日の木, sun-’s-tree. This is substantiated by the fact this important tree was and is used in the construction of shrines, that ultimately are identified with the sun goddess, Amaterasu. This evergreen tree can grow to great size, and is...

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February in the Tearoom

The month of February is often identified with aspects of the lunar calendar, kyū-reki, 旧暦, old-calendar, which can cause a little confusion, and can cause things to be out of sync with events that are associated with the full moon.  The second month of the lunar calendar is called Kisaragi, and is written with the Kanji, 如月, which is read as Kisaragi, but according to the Kanji, it should be read jo-getsu, likeness-month. The word ki-sara-gi can be written with the Kanji, 衣更着, clothes-more-wear, because it is the coldest time of the year. The year 2022 has the first day of February coinciding with the first day...

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Setsubun and Otafuku

  Toko-no-ma, 床の間, floor-’s-room; kake-mono, 掛物, hang-thing, ‘Mame-maki’, 豆撒, bean-throw, by Hanabusa I-tchō, 英 一蝶, Calyx One-butterfly (1652 – 1724); L. 6 shaku kane-jaku. Hana-ire, 花入, flower-receptacle, take, 竹, bamboo, ni-jū-giri, 二重切り, two-tier cut, by David Flanagan, Boston; L. 15 sun kane-jaku. Shin-en-rei, 神苑鈴, god-garden-bell, displayed on a plain wood san-bō, 三宝, three-treasures; H. 5.15 sun kane-jaku. Ro, 炉, hearth; ro-buchi, 炉縁, hearth-frame; ‘Kashiwa-ba Uba-guchi-gama,’ 柏葉姥口釜, Oak-leaf Old woman-mouth-kettle, tetsu, 鉄, iron, diam. 7 sun kane-jaku. Take dai-su, 竹台子, bamboo support-of; H. 20 sun kane-jaku / 16 sun kujira-jaku. Displayed on the  ji-ita, 地板, earth-board; Mizu-sashi, 水指, water-indicate, white porcelain; h. 4 sun kane-jaku; shaku-tate, 杓立, ladle-stand,...

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Furo Ro: Three Forms

The furo and the ro are rarely, if ever, used together, however there are so many similarities and differences that examining them together is quite revealing. One great difference is that the furo/kama manifests the Yō, 陽, positive aspect, and the ro manifests the In, 陰, negative aspect.  The standard fu-ro, 風炉, wind-hearth, that uses a go-toku, 五徳, five-virtues, to support the kama, 釜, kettle, was originally made of tetsu, 鉄, iron, as was the kama, 釜, kettle. Furo are made in various materials; iron, bronze, ceramic, wood, etc. A furo is essentially a large bowl that has an opening in the front, hi–mado, 火窓, fire-window. The...

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The Shijinjū

The Shi-jin-jū, 四神獣, Four-god-creatures.   Kita, 北, north; Shō-ji, 正子, Correct-Rat; mid-night; Fuyu, 冬, Winter; Tō-ji,冬至, Winter-attain; Gen-bu, 玄武, Black-warrior. Turtle-snake formedwhen the Black Warrior wanted to be immortal and washed his stomach and intestines in a river. Northern quadrant of the seven celestial constellations; became Ta-mon-ten, 多聞天, Multi-hear-heaven.   Higashi, 東, east; asa, 朝, morning; Haru, 春, Spring; Shun-bun, 春分, Spring-divide; Sei-ryū, Azur-dragon; eastern quadrant of seven celestial constellations; became Ji-koku-ten, 持国天, Hold-country-heaven.   Minami, 南, south; hiru, 昼 noon; Natsu, 夏, Summer; Ge-shi, 夏至, Summer-attain; Su-zaku, 朱雀, Red-bird; southern quadrant of seven celestial constellations; became Zō-chō-ten, 増長天, Increase-long-heaven.   Nishi, 西, west; yu, 夕, evening;...

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Chakin and Lotus

Over the past four decades, I have thought that there is a close relationship between the dō-gu, 道具, way-tool, of Chanoyu and Buddhist implements. That which prompts this thought is primarily in the presence of the lotus and its various aspects. It is the means in which one is reborn into Buddhist paradise.     Perhaps the most obvious object is the lotus, and, in particular, its seedpod, ren-niku, 蓮肉, lotus-flesh. The conical pod resembles the form of the Ten-moku ja-wan, 天目茶碗, Heaven-eye tea-bowl. The Tenmoku bowl holding tea is placed on the Buddhist altar along with other utensils that are based on the lotus forms. Black lotus...

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Chasen Suehiro

Outer tines are separated by intertwined threads from thinner, inner tines.  The outer tines are bent outwards, the inner tines are bent inwards. The alternating tines create the Japanese number eight, hachi, 八, manifesting sue-hiro, 末広, ends-wide. The inner tines also create the number hachi in the opposite direction. The number eight is symbolic of Infinity in Space. The two variations of the number hachi, might evoke the number hachi-hachi, 八八, or hachi-jū-hachi, 八十八, which is exceptionally auspicious, symbolic of the center of the world. There are three threads that measure 8 sun kane-jaku, long, that are wound around the chasen, and that are left a little...

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