Preparation steps of Temae for Furo

Hakobi-Temae using the Furo 風炉の運び点前

Hakobi (運び) means: to carry. Temae (点前) means: the ritual preparation of tea during the Japanese-tea-ceremony. This is the most basic style of the Japanese tea ceremony because all Dougu are being carried into the room as opposed to being displayed on the Tana in the Chashitsu.

Every step of the Japanese tea ceremony has a profound deeper meaning and aesthetics going back hundreds of years. During this detailed explanation one might be surprised by all the small details, gestures and movements prescribed to perform the most enjoyable tea-ceremony for the guests present in the Chashitsu. Sometimes it can seem to be so opposite from the ancient philosophy of the Japanese-tea-ceremony, which is simplicity. Simplicity during the preparation of a bowl of green-tea was suggested by Sen-no-Rikyu, who is the grandfather of the three largest tea-schools in Japan.

Here I would like to explain in more detail how Usucha-tea is prepared in the tearoom when the guests have arrived. This means that the Teishu has already done much preparation starting several weeks earlier.

  • Send invitations to the guests.
  • Clean the garden around the teahouse.
  • Select utensils for the day of the tea-ceremony.
  • Have a meeting with the Hantou and Shokyaku.
  • Clean the tearoom, change the Shoji paper on the sliding doors, and replace old Tatami mats.
  • Start preparing the Kaiseki meal from the early morning or day before.
  • Planning for unforeseen events or sudden changes.

Opening the door

The Sadouguchi Fusuma is opened in two stages using both hands one-at-a-time. If the door slides open to the left, it is pushed open for two-third with the left hand then the final one-third is opened with the right hand crossing in front of the body. While pushing the sliding-door open with one hand, the other is resting on the lap sitting in Seiza position. Before opening the door, the Teishu has to place the bowl or dish with Higashi sweets, in front of the knees on the Tatami.

Presenting the sweets

When the Sadouguchi Fusuma is opened the bowl is lifted with hands on either side. Teishu stands up with Issokutachi, which means in one smooth movement (without the buttocks touching the heels of the feet). Teishu then walks into the room, left foot first towards the Shokyaku without stepping on the edges of the Tatami. Arriving in front of the Shokyaku, Teishu sits down and then places the bowl close to the Shokyaku. Teishu says: “Okashi wo doozo” meaning please have these sweets while bowing. The Shokyaku usually bows back silently.

Bringing in tea utensils

First tea-utensil brought into the room is the Mizusashi, held in both hands on the left and right side. Before entering the room the Teishu sits down and places the Mizusashi in front of the knees at the Sadouguchi. At this point the Teishu announces that Usucha, is going to be prepared (Read more about: dialog between Shoukyaku and Teishu). Teishu walks into the tearoom and places the Mizusashi next to the Furo. Next, the Chawan and Natsume are carried into the room. Chawan is held in the left hand and the Natsume is held in the right hand with the palm on top and fingers in front. The Chawan and Natsume are simultaneously placed in front of the Mizusashi. The Chawan contains the Fukin, Chasen and Chashaku. Lastly the Kensui with Hishaku and Futa-oki is carried into the Chashitsu with the left hand (Read more about: tea-utensils ranking). When walking through the Sadouguchi, Teishu will turn and sit down diagonally facing the sliding-door. Kensui with Hishaku is placed in front of the knees with the Hishaku parallel to the Sadouguchi. The sliding door will be closed in the same way, two-third with one hand and one-third with the second hand. Standing up while balancing the Kensui is always challenging, don’t drop the Hishaku!! Sitting down in the middle of the Temaeza before the Furo, the Kensui is placed besides the body. With the same left hand the Hishaku is lifted and the Futa-oki is taken from the Kensui with the right hand. Bring the Hishaku in front of the chest and turn it up (Kamaeru) so that you can see into the cup of the ladle, holding it with the thumb on top just under the Fushi (nodule). Take the Futaoki from the Kensui and place it left to the Furo with the right hand and place the Hishaku on top of it. The handle of the Hishaku should point between the knees.

Greetings and clothes

Now Teishu greets the guests with a bow. Shokyaku and other guests bow silently in return. Teishu takes time to arrange clothes to make sure sitting will be comfortable for the duration of the tea-ceremony. Take a refreshing breath to move into the silent and meditative state of mind, to prepare the best bowl of green-tea. When ready, start by moving the Kensui slightly forward in line with the knees.

Cleaning the Natsume

Once Teishu is comfortable, the Chawan is picked-up with the right hand, transferred to the left hand and again put down in front of the knees with the right hand. Make sure enough space is left for the Natsume to fit in between the Knees and the Chawan.

Pickup the Natsume with the right hand and place it between the knees and the Chawan. With the left hand remove the Fukusa and fold it. Hold the Fukusa in the right hand and pickup the Natsume with the left hand from the left side with four fingers at the back and the thumb at the front. Wipe the top of the Natsume in the form of the Hiragana syllable こ (Ko), then flow to the left side down. Place the Natsume in front of the Mizusashi to the left.

Cleaning the Chashaku

The Fukusa is still in the right hand, open it and fold it again. (Women should not make sound when folding the Fukusa for the second time but men should. This is called 音立てる Ototateru or simply: making sound.) This time hold the Fukusa in the left hand and pickup the Chashaku with the right. Place the Chashaku on the Fukusa which is held in the left hand in front of the body at heart level. Hold Chashaku at the end and slide the Fukusa forward with the left hand, cleaning the top and the bottom. Slide back to the beginning and now wipe the Chashaku on the sides. Slide back up and then one more time down cleaning the top and bottom. Place Chashaku on the Natsume. Take the Chasen from the Chawan and place it next to the Natsume (Men can now fold the Fukusa and attach it to the Himo of the Hakama again. Women should place it behind the Kensui and later use it to remove the (hot) Futa from the Kama.)

With the right hand bring the Chawan closer to the knees.

Remove Futa from the Kama

With the left hand pickup the Hishaku and hold it at chest height so that you can see into the cup of the bamboo-ladle (Kamaeru). With the right hand remove the Futa from the Kama and place it on the Futa-oki. (Women should use the Fukusa to remove the Futa because it might be hot. With the right hand pick up the Fukusa which was placed behind the Kensui after wiping the Chashaku. Place it on the knob or handle of the Futa, and remove the Futa by sliding it slightly backward before lifting it.) Take the Fukin from the Chawan and place it on the Futa. Now take the Hishaku in the right hand and scoop a full ladle of hot water into the Chawan. Rest the Hishaku on the Kama.

Cleaning the Chasen

Take the Chasen with the right hand and stir the water in the Chawan gently from the right side down to the left and back. Put the Chasen down facing to the right. Hold the Chawan steady with the left hand. Lift the Chasen with the right hand and slowly bring it up and turning it at the same time in order to check all the tines of the whisk. Look closely to make sure the Chasen is clean and in perfect condition. Bring it down again and stir again from right to left and back. Put the Chasen down on the right for one moment and repeat two times more. Next, whisk the water to warm up and make the tines soft so that they won’t break while whisking the powdered green-tea with the water later on. Finish by drawing a の (No) shape in the water and place the Chasen next to the Natsume again.

Warming the Chawan

Pick up the Chawan and place it on the palm of the left hand. Holding the Chawan with two hands, slowly tilt the Chawan in an anticlockwise motion three times to warm the tea-bowl. Next, discard the water into the Kensui with the left hand only. Bring it back to chest-level and pick up the Chakin with your right hand, lay it over the edge of the Chawan and whipe to the right three times to come back to the starting point. Now place the Chakin on the bottom and whipe it in a ゆ (yu) shape. Remove the Chakin and place it on the lit of the Mizusashi again. Take the Chawan with the right hand and put it down in front of the knees again.

Scoop Macha into the Chawan

With the right hand take the Chashaku from the Natsume and pick up the Natsume with the left hand from the side. Bring the Natsume in front of the chest, hold the Chashaku with only the little and ring fingers so the other two fingers and the thumb are free to take the lit from the Natsume. Place the lit next to the Chawan on the right. Bring the Natsume closer to the Chawan and scoop one-and-a-half spoons of powdered Macha into the Chawan. Bring the Natsume closer to the chest again. Smoothen out the powdered Macha in the Chawan and tap the Chashaku twice on the edge of the Chawan in order to remove some Macha which might still be stuck to it. Put the lit back on the Natsume, place it back by the Mizusashi and the Chashaku on top of it.

Remove lit from Mizusashi

Before adding hot water to the powdered Macha in the Chawan, the lit of the Mizusashi should be removed. With the right hand lift the lit, bring it closer to the body, and flip it so that the top is facing to the right. It is now in a vertical position. Grab it with the left hand with the thumb on the right, then with the right hand grab it above the left and place it standing against the Mizusashi on the left side.

During the Japanese tea ceremony there is a lot of transferring utensils from one hand to the other for aesthetical reasons. At first, these small movements will seem unnecessary in the beginning but after becoming more familiar with the Temae one will come to realize the simplicity of it.

Scoop hot water into Chawan

To take the Hishaku from the Kama, use index and middle finger to lift it from underneath. Slide these two fingers slightly forward and bring them around to hold the ladle like a pen. Take a full cup of water; pour it slowly in the Chawan. If a full cup of hot water is scooped from the Kama, we should pour a little more than half of it to get the perfect mix of green-tea. - It will take years of experience to get the correct balance of Macha and Oyu. Return leftover Oyu to the Kama and place the Hishaku on the Kama.

Whisk Macha and Oyu

Take the Chasen in the right hand and hold the Chawan with the left to make sure it doesn’t tumble over when whisking. Whisk the Oyu and Macha to froth with about half of the Chawan covered with foam. Depending on the ceramics, a rough Chawan might require extra care when whisking, making sure Macha doesn’t fly all over the room. When the green-tea froth is well mixed, finish by drawing a の (No) shape in the Chawan so that the foam floats in the center. Place the Chasen in front of the Mizusashi again.

Serving green-tea to guests

Now tea is ready to be served to the guests. Pick up the Chawan with the right hand and place it on the palm of the left hand. Turn it two times about one-quarter anticlockwise so that the Shomen (front side) of the Chawan comes to face to guest when he or she comes to receive it. With the right hand the Chawan is placed on the other side of the Temaeza Tatami border. (Women should turn about forty-five degrees toward the guest, so that the arm doesn’t need to be stretched very far to place it on the other side of Temaeza Tatami border. After the Chawan has been put down, women can turn back facing the Furo again.)

Dialog with Shokyaku

At this time the first guest or Shokyaku will move forward, either crouching or walking. The Shokyaku is the only one who can ask questions or comment on the tea and other Dougu in the Chashitsu. Read more about: Shokyaku and Teishu dialog. And about proper etiquette for guests at the Japanese-tea-ceremony

Cleaning the Chawan

After the Shokyaku has finished drinking, he or she returns the Chawan to exactly the same place were it was picked up, but the front or Shomen should face the Teishu.

Teishu takes the Chawan and places it in front of the knees. Again the Hishaku is picked up and about half a scoop of Oyu from the Kama will be poured into the Chawan. The Chawan is picked up with the right hand and placed on the palm of the left hand at chest height. The Chawan is slowly tilted around in an anticlockwise motion three times in order to rinse it. The waste water is discarded into the Kensui with the left hand. – At this moment the Shokyaku may announce that all guests have had enough to drink and ask the Teishu to finish the tea-ceremony. If nothing is being mentioned by the Shokyaku, the Teishu will continue making tea.

Continue making tea

When the waste water is discarded into the Kensui, the Fukin is picked up and placed in the Chawan. The Fukin is opened and folded over the rim of the Chawan with half of it inside and half of it outside. With the thumb inside and the four fingers on the outside, the rim is wiped for one-third at a time, encircling the whole Chawan and ending up at starting point. (Chawan is held by the left hand and turned with the right) Now that the rim is clean, the Fukin is slid off upward and placed in the Chawan. Holding the Fukin with thumb, index and middle finger the inside of the Chawan is wiped clean drawing a ゆ (Yu) shape. Both the rim and inside of the Chawan is clean so the Fukin can be placed on the Futa again. Put the Chawan down in front of the knees again. Now the next bowl of tea can be prepared continuing with scooping powdered Macha in to the bowl again. See step: Scoop Macha into the Chawan

Finishing the Japanese Tea Ceremony

Steps to finish Furo in summer


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