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Japanese Tea Ceremony - Utensils


Japanese Tea Ceremony Utensils
Japanese Tea Ceremony Utensils


When it comes to a simple Japanese Tea Ceremony, it is anything but simple.  Especially when it comes to the utensils.  There are a plethora of utensils, each with its own ritualistic important.  The tools as a whole is called a Dōgu (道具, literally meaning tools) Let’s take a look at each and every one, shall we?

Cha-ire (茶入) (tea caddy) – the shape is usually tall and thin.  The caddy is usually ceramic and stored in decorative bags called Shifuku.

Chakin (茶巾) (hemp cloth) – A chakin does not necessarily have to be made of hemp; it can also be made of linen.  The cloth is used to ritually cleanse the tea bowl after a guest has finished the tea and has returned it to the host.

Chasen (茶筅) (whisk) – this utensil is carved from a single piece of bamboo.  They are technically considered Dōgu; however, it is still necessary in mixing the tea.

Chashaku (茶杓) (tea scoop) – this utensil is also carved from single piece of ivory or bamboo.  This utensil is important because it allows for the correct proportions of the matcha or green tea powder.

Chawan (茶碗) (tea bowl) – This is the most important utensil because otherwise how else are you going to drink the tea?  There are different styles depending on the type of tea or the season.  For example, the host serves the tea in shallow bowls in the summer to allow the tea to cool faster.  In the winter, the tea is served in deeper bowls to maintain the tea’s heat.

Fukusa (袱紗) (silk cloth) – this is a silk cloth that is used in the ritualistic cleansing of the Chashaku.

Furo (風炉) (portable brazier) – This utensil is used primarily in the spring and summer seasons.

Hishaku (柄杓)(Ladle) – this utensil is made of bamboo and is used to transfer the hot water from the iron pot to the tea bowl.  There are various sizes depending on the ceremony and the season.

Kama / Chanoyugama (釜) (iron pot, or kettle) – This utensil is essentially in heating up the water needed for tea.  The Kama is made of iron or copper while the lid is made from cast iron (however, the lid can also be made of bronze, copper, brass, silver or even ancient bronze mirror).

Kensui (建水) (waste water receptacle/ bowl) – this is container where the waste water of recently rinsed tea bowls is held.  To dispose of it during the ceremony is as well as reusing the waste water is a huge ritualistic no-no.

Kobukusa (古帛紗) or Dashibukusa (出帛紗) (silk cloth) – this silk cloth is brought in by the guest.  This cloth is used if a guest would like to inspect a piece of equipment throughout the ceremony.  They are not allowed to touch any of the utensils with their hands; however, they are allowed to touch so long as it is with this cloth.

Ro (炉) (sunken hearth) – this hearth is used in the autumn and winter months.  The sunken structure helps insulate the pot so that it can keep the water hot.

Phew! What a rundown.  I have seen part of a tea ceremony before.  However, I have never seen all of these utensils used.  I find this subject fascinating and would love to find a tea house and see this ceremony in action.  What about you, dear readers?