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  The standard fu-ro, 風炉, wind-hearth, that uses a go-toku, 五徳, five-virtues, to support the kama, 釜, kettle, was originally made of tetsu, 鉄, iron, as was the kama, 釜, kettle.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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Furo: Style and Form

Water for making tea is heated in a kettle that is heated over a charcoal fire set in a hearth. The hearth was a standard open square in the floor called an i-ro-ri, 囲炉裏, surround-heart-inner, filled with ash and various implement to support different vessels, which were also hung above the fire. In Chanoyu, the hearth was called a fu-ro, 風炉, wind-hearth.    The earliest form of kama was supported directly on the furo. The kama of the Ki-men-bu-ro, 鬼面風炉, Demon-face-wind-hearth, has a quarter-round flange called a hane, 羽, wing, sits on the furo atop an upright perforated collar called a koshiki, 甑, ring support. Such furo...

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Chasen

Cha-no-yu, 茶の湯, tea-’s-hot water, is made with ma-tcha, 抹茶, powdered-tea, that is blended with hot water using a cha-sen, 茶筅, tea-whisk. There are many different sizes and styles of chasen. The standard chasen is made of a single piece of aged ‘white’ take, 竹, bamboo, with a length of the 3 sun kujira-jaku, 鯨尺, whale-span, 11.5 cm.  Although the diameter of the bamboo varies, the standard Japanese diameter is approximately .7 sun kane-jaku, 曲尺, bend-span, or .55 sun kujira-jaku, 2.4 cm. It is a bit curious that the chasen is made using the kujira-jaku, because bamboo objects are usually measured with the kane-jaku, 曲尺, bend-span. The length...

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Kobukusa

A ko-buku-sa, 古帛紗, old-cloth-gauze, also written with Kanji, 古袱紗, is a small square of fine fabric that is used to display or hold a prized Tea utensil. The fabric is doubled, so that it is hemmed on three sides. It is kept in the front folding of the kimono, futokoro or kai, folded in half like a Japanese book, with the fold on the right, together with a folded fuku-sa, 帛紗, cloth-gauze, and folded pack of kai-shi, 懐紙, heart-paper. Because of its kept location, it is also called a kai-chū ko-buku-sa, 懐中古帛紗, heart-middle old-cloth-gauze. The kobukusa is kept in the futokoro, 懐, heart, the front folding of...

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Sekimori Ishi and Ganesha

The garden of a Teahouse is called a ro-ji, 露地, dew-ground, which has a path leading from the outside world to the Teahouse. A roji should have no flowering plants, but rather, evergreen trees and plants such as ferns, moss, bamboo, etc.  Sen no Rikyū believed that the ideal roji has only moss, koke, 苔, covering the ground, but as people might get their feet wet, it has a pathway made of steppingstones, tobi-ishi, 飛石, fly-stone.  The roji may have paths branching off the main route, and to mark where the guest should not walk, a stone is placed a little way in, indicating that the way...

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Chasen and the Gorintō

In Cha-no-yu, 茶の湯, tea-’s-hot water, the cha-sen, 茶筅, tea-whisk. The chasen is a length of bamboo that is cut into many tines at one end, and has thread wound around the bamboo to separate the outer ring of tines. By itself alone may represent the Go-rin-tō, 五輪塔, Five-ring-tower. The Go-rin, 五輪, Five-rings or principles, are Chi, 地, Earth,  Sui, 水, Water,  Ka, 火, Fire,  Fū, 風, Wind, Kū, 空, Void. The Kanji for ring, 輪, also means the Indian concept of chakra, points or areas on the human body. The chasen is round to manifest the chakra which is a circle. The word Gorintō is composed of...

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