Tea in August
In long-held tradition in Chanoyu, the tanzaku is not regarded as the most appropriate for display in the tokonoma for a Tea gathering. However, a tanzaku is often displayed in the machi-ai, 待合, wait-gather, where the guests gather before entering the Tearoom. A treasured tanzaku may be mounted as a kake-jiku, 掛軸, hang-scroll.
Tan-zaku kake, 短冊掛, small-volume hanger, made of sugi, 杉, cedar, and details of go-ma dake, 胡麻竹, foreign-flax bamboo, with openwork sukashi, 透かし, openwork, of sasa, 笹, bamboo grass, L. 18 x 3 sun kane-jaku. The bamboo grass motif relates to the tanzaku that are attached for Tanabata. Note the significance of the number 18, being symbolic of life: jū, 十, ten, and hachi, 八, eight, can be written moku, 木, tree, which is emblematic of Life.
It is possible that the enormous popularity of the long narrow tanzaku poems and pictures was brought about by the reluctance of Japanese people to make holes in the sand-finished walls of a room. The narrow tanzaku hanger fits nicely on the side of a hashira, 柱, post that supports the walls.
Ōnusa is used to purify the air, people, and things within, for Ō-harai, 大祓, Great-purification. The ōnusa is displayed before a Shin-tō jin-ja, 神道神社, god-shrine, that invites the spirts.
The scene pictured above is at Atsu-ta Jin-gū, 熱田神宮, Hot-ricefield God-palace, in preparation for the New Year. New Year’s cleaning often begins on the 13th of December, or more traditionally on the 13th day of the 12th lunar month.
The common duster in the home and elsewhere is called a hataki, 叩き, duster, strike: susu-dake, 煤竹, smoke-bamboo L. 18 sun kane-jaku.
In Buddhism, on the 13th day of each month is the veneration of Ko-kū-zō Bo-satsu, 虚空蔵菩薩, Empty-void-keep Grass-buddha, who represents the vastness of the wisdom of the Buddha. Kokūzō is a manifestation of Sanskrit Akasa-garbha, Space-essence. The counterpart of Kokūzō Bosatsu is Ji-zō Bo-satsu, 地蔵菩薩, Earth-keep Grass-buddha, who is the guardian of the earth.
Many traditional events occur on the 15th of the lunar month which is in accord with the full moon, and the 15th day of the lunar month is the veneration of A-mi-da Nyo-rai, 阿弥陀如来, Praise-increase-steep Like-become, the Buddha of Compassion, who resides in the golden, western paradise of Goku-raku Jō-do, 極楽浄土, Ultimate-pleasure Pure-land.
The shiki-shi, 色紙, color paper, in the picture of the tokonoma is mounted on a shiki-shi-fuku, 色紙幅, color-paper-hanging scroll. The paper with writing or a picture may be removed from the stiff cardboard backing and mounted as a hanging scroll.
Nō-gaku Bu-tai, 能楽舞台, Skill-music Dance-support, stage. The Kanji 舞, mau, means to move forward and turning with the feet kept on the floor, without taking large steps, and leaping about. This is the style of ‘dance’ in Japan’s Nō, 能, theater. There are many, many forms of ‘dance’, and in Japan, ‘mai’ is but one. The Kanji Nō, 能, means ability, talent, skill, capacity, etc.
The above video is to show the variance that light plays on a surface covered with gold leaf. When the light is reflected directly on the surface, it is bright and shiny, but when the light is not directly reflected, the surface appears dark. This phenomenon should be taken into consideration regarding the ‘Ō-gon Cha-shitsu’, 黄金茶室, Yellow-gold Tea-room, of Rikyū and Toyo-tomi Hide-yoshi, 豐臣秀吉, Bountiful-retainer Excel-luck.
Left: a recent photograph of a brightly lit recreation of Rikyū’s Ōgon Chashitsu, and on the right, a negative of the same picture. When staring at an image, and looking away, the image appears to be the opposite or negative of the image. The Ōgon Chashitsu had scarlet coverings over the floor, which in a negative would appear to be green. In Japanese paintings of room interiors, the tatami is often colored green, ao-datami, 青畳, green-tatami, to show that it is tatami, and that it is new. The reflective yellow of the gold in a negative would appear dull and drab brown, just as the suna-kabe, 砂壁, sand-wall, of the humble chashitsu. Note how the gold dai-su, 台子, support-of, display stand and the cha-dō-gu, 茶道具, tea-way-tools, utensils appear to be dark, even black, like the shin-nuri, 真塗, true-lacquered, daisu, and bronze utensils.
When viewing the recreations of the Ōgon Chashitsu, or pictures of it, they are brightly lit with spot and flood lights so that it is glaringly brilliant. This was not what the room would look like with a candlestick in the tokonoma, and an oil lamp near the utensils. The Tearoom was put inside a large drawing room which had fusuma and wall coverings with gold leaf surfaces, and was essentially dark. Being present in the Ōgon Chashitsu, would give a feeling of quiet solemnity. Worship sanctuaries throughout the world often have gilded surfaces and gold ornamentation candlesticks, vases of flowers, etc., which could reflect light in the dark chambers. The impression is one of light rather than a show of wealth.
Hideyoshi wanted to have a golden Tearoom to impress others with his wealth, perhaps. In Rikyū’s devotion, the golden Tearoom may have represented the earthly manifestation of Amida’s golden western paradise of Jō-do, 浄土, Pure-land. They may have had opposing views.
The reference to hana, is for cherry blossoms that fall onto streams and cluster together making little floating rafts. After Obon observances, the stalks of bamboo are put into rivers so that they will float to paradise, laden with prayers and good wishes.
The design construction of the incense container, with its eleven pieces of bamboo, may have been inspired by a collection of Chinese poems, in Japanese called, ‘Jiao-jing-yuan Zi-shu’, 题僧院 紫竹, Question-monk-monastery Purple-bamboo. Ryōryōsai was exceedingly fond of poetry. The poems are collectively called Take Jū-ichi–shu, 竹十一首, Bamboo Ten-one-poems. It is a series of eleven poems on bamboo at the temple by Chen Tao, 陈陶, (Japanese – Chin-tō, 陳陶, Explain-ceramic, (824-882); a celebrated late Tang poet. The poems were written about the bamboo grove at the Dong-lin-si, 東林寺, East-woods-temple, that is a Buddhist monastery in the Jiangxi province, China, founded in 386 by Huiyuan, founder of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism.
During the summer, the sliding fusuma, 襖, wall panel, and shō-ji, 障子, hinder-of, are replaced with su-do, 簾戸, reed-doors. The Tearoom becomes darkened with the shaded light, which is thought to give a cooler feeling in the summer heat.
According to Taoism, the furo may represent the bowl of fire in the belly, that supports a cauldron to make its water turn to steam which represents the transformation of the In, 陰, negative, to Yō, 陽, positive. One of the first acts of a Tea presentation is to build a fire in the hearth to heat water for tea.
Kama, 釜, kettle; tetsu, 鉄, iron, kata-tsuki, , shoulder-thrust, nishi kan-tsuki, 螺鐶, snail metal ring-attach, with design of shira-sagi, 白鷺, white-egret; with lid h. 6 sun kane-jaku; by Taka-hashi Kei-ten, 高橋敬典, High-bridge Respect-rule, Yama-gata, 山形, Mountain-shape. National-treasure, Nin-gen Koku-hō, 人間国宝, Person-space Country-treasure. Nishi, 螺, small, edible, helical fresh-water mollusk, food of the egrets.
The ratio between the height of the kama with the lid, 6 sun kane-jaku, and the height of the furo, 7 sun kane-jaku, is .8576. If the height of the kama had an additional .16 sun kane-jaku, the ratio would be .888 to infinity. The number six is In, 陰, negative, as it can be divided equally in half, and seven is Yō, 陽, positive, because it cannot be equally divided in half. Water is In, and is symbolically identified with the number six, In, and the kama is a water vessel. Fire is Yō, and seven is Yō.
In ancient times, the natural eyebrows were plucked, and new ‘eyebrows’ were applied to the forehead using a powdered ink called hai-zumi, 灰墨, ash-ink, which was made of soot from sesame or rapeseed oils. The cosmetic eyebrows, mayuzumi, 黛, blackened eyebrows, were called in English, ‘moth eyebrows’ as the word mayu also refers to the moth cocoon, mayu, 繭. In addition, the shape of the ‘moth eyebrows’ resembles somewhat the silkworm cocoon. Curiously, the mayuzumi eyebrow is black, and the silk cocoon is white, not unlike the whitish ash seen through the mayu window of the furo.
The identification of the opening in the front of the furo, may suggest the eyebrows, mayu, of Jizō, which are identified with his compassion. In Buddhism, the place between the eyebrows may have the urna, byaku-gō, 白毫, white-hair, the spiral of a single white hair that is the symbol of the ability to ‘see’ beyond the suffering of humanity. The length of the hair is said to be 5 shaku kane-jaku. The urna is prominent on the face of many Buddhist deities, and is likened to the wisdom of Buddha. It is believed that a thin light radiates out in all directions from the white urna of the Buddha’s brow.
The length of the Buddha’s urna hair is go-shaku, 五尺, five-spans, for which there may be significant wordplay. An important and familiar Buddhist hanging scroll measures go-shaku, 五尺, five-spans, and is called the Go-shaku kake-jiku, 五尺掛軸, Five-span Hang-scroll. The subject of the scroll is the Jū-san-butsu, 十三仏, Ten-three-buddha, The Thirteen Buddhas. The scroll is deemed suitable for O-bon, お盆, Hon.-tray, O-hi-gan, お彼岸, Hon,-opposite-shore, the forty-nine memorial services, and other important Buddhist occasions. Goshaku also may refer to the Five Buddhas, who are prominent in both of the Ryō-kai Man-da-ra, 両界曼荼羅, Both-world-wide-weed-spread. The word shaku is also written with the Kanji 釈,explanation, which is part of the family name of the Buddha, Sakya, written with Kanji, Sha-ka, 釈迦, Explanation-(sound).
The purpose or reason for the design of the graduated lines may be in its name, ara, 荒 , or that the lines suggest waves of water that appear narrower the farther away they are. The Kanji 荒 is read ara, meaning rough, wild, coarse, etc. and implies turbulent movement of water as in rough surf, and splashing. The Asian concept of existence is that beneath everything is a vast ocean.
Everything was created by the churning of the Ocean of Milk, the Milky Way. Mount Sumeru, the center of the world, was supported on the back of a great tortoise. The serpent Vasuki was tied three times around the mountain, the demigods pulled the head, and the gods pulled the tail in a world-shaking tug of creation. Perhaps the furo represents the celestial tortoise. The furo is in the north, and the celestial guardian of the north is Gen-bu, 玄武, Black-warrior, symbolized by a warrior and a combined tortoise/snake.
In Buddhism, an easy way to cross the great water to enter Amida’s western paradise, Jō-do, 浄土, Pure-land, is by taking a boat. The earthenware furo, supports the kama, and one of Rikyū’s favorite kama is the ‘Amida-dō’, 阿弥陀堂, Amida-hall.
The crab burrows into the wet sand, has eight-legs, water creature protects against fire. An old name for the futaoki is kakure-ga, 隠れ家, hide-house, as it was ‘hidden’ in the kensui. The mage kensui is wet before use, and ideally should be new for a Tea presentation.
The chawan used for koi-cha, 濃茶, thick-tea, may require the use of a kobukusa, unless the chawan is Raku-yaki, 楽焼, Pleasure-fired. For many people, it is not fully understood, why a kobukusa is not ‘required’ when drinking tea from a Raku chawan.
The sweet, Dō-so-jin, 道祖神,Way-ancestor-god, is made with ki-na-ko, 黄な粉, yellow-flour, roasted soy bean flour, that is molded in forms or cut in blocks. Dōsojin is a generic name for a type of Shintō kami popularly worshipped in the region of Kan-tō, 関東, Barrier-east, Tōkyō, and neighboring areas in Japan. They are tutelary deities of borders and paths, and are believed to protect travelers, pilgrims, villages, and from epidemics and evil spirits.
In summer, when presenting usu-cha, 薄茶, thin-tea, a hira ja-wan, 平茶碗, wide tea-bowl, is used to suggest coolness seeing a wide expanse of water in the bowl. Often, one might choose to prepare arai ja-kin, 洗い茶巾, rough tea-cloth, which is performed by laying the chakin in a partially filled chawan.
As seen in the above video, to handle the chakin, with the right hand, lift the chakin somewhat abruptly above the water, wait until the water stops dripping, fold the chakin together, wring it once. Hold the chakin above the ken-sui, 建水, build-water, wring it until appropriately dry, and the fold the chakin in the usual manner. Place the folded chakin on the lid of kama, 釜, kettle. Empty the water from the bowl, place it on the tatami, and pour a half-ladle of hot water into the chawan. Continue to make tea as usual.
The temple is the site of Rikyū’s Tea hut named Tai-an, 待庵, Wait-hut. The temple was previously named Ji-zō-ji, 地蔵寺, Earth-treasure-temple. During the Edo period it was named Myōkian, and became a branch of Tō-fuku-ji, 東福寺, East-fortune-temple. Although there are questions about when Rikyū’s Taian was built, it was located at Myōkian in 1582. The temple’s name is derived from Myō-ki Se-kai, 妙喜世界, Wondrous-joy World-bounds, that is a name of Amida’s Jō-do, 浄土, Pure-land. Taian is the only known Tea hut in existence that was created by Rikyū.
E-ma, 絵馬, picture-horse; pentagonal cedar board with writing and image of San-bō Kō-jin, 三宝荒神, Three-treasure Rough-god, print characters, Go-jō-in, 護浄院, Guard-pure-temple, Kiyoshi-kō-jin, 清荒神, Pure-rough-god, and in red hi no yō-shin, 火の用心, fire ’s utilize-heart; width 5 sun kane-jaku. Made for Go-jō-in, 護浄院, Guard-pure-temple, founded in founded in 772, the chief deity is Kiyoshi-san-bō Dai-kō-jin, 清三宝大荒神, Pure-three-treasures Great-rough-god, Kyōto.
A nation-wide choice for a summer garment is the yu-kata, 浴衣, bathe-garment, and although primarily for use after the bath, it is also worn outside without impunity. As delightful and charming as are the infinite variety of patterns, the yukata is regarded as rather inappropriate for the Tearoom. The kimono is preferred. However, there are moments when Chanoyu is more important than apparel.
A sweet in the Tearoom in summer is a variety of kuzu man-ju, 葛饅頭, arrowroot bean jam bun-head, called mizu-bo-tan, 水牡丹, water-male-red. It is made with a ball of an jam wrapped in a clear arrowroot gel.
The folding sen-su, 扇子, fan-of, of Chanoyu would never be used to fan oneself. However, there are a wide variety of fans that provide a cooling breeze. Although most popular in summer, the uchiwa, 団扇, round-fan, is a fan used throughout the year. The uchiwa is often a gift from a temple or shrine.
There is wordplay on uchi-wa, 内輪, inner-ring, which is a metaphor for a happy loving home. The fan has thirty-two bamboo bones divided from the handle made of a single piece of bamboo, which totals thirty-three. There are thirty-three manifestations of Kan-non Bo-satsu, 観音菩薩, See-sound Grass-buddha. The oneness of the piece of bamboo, Yō, positive, and is split into many figure ‘eights’, 八, of openness which is In, negative.