Japanese tea ceremony Utensils

Tea equipment is called Dōgu (道具, literally tools). A wide range of Dōgu is necessary for even the most basic tea ceremony. A full list of all available tea implements and supplies and their various styles and variations could fill a several-hundred-page book, and thousands of such volumes exist. A tea devotee would have to be in possession of almost all of these Dōgu in order to hold a Chaji (a full tea ceremony with Kaiseki meal) and to teach students during Keiko. Purchasing and collecting all these Dōgu will take a lifetime and a small fortune since prices can go extremely high for antique tools or ones made by famous artists. The following is a brief list of the essential components:

Glossary of Utensils

Cha-ire (茶入) (tea caddy) : The cha-ire is usually tall and thin (but shapes may vary significantly)chaire powdered green tea container and has an ivory lid with a gold leaf underside. Cha-ire are usually ceramic, and are stored in decorative bags called Shifuku.

The Cha-ire tea caddy is used when making thick tea called Koicha for the guests. As the Cha-ire is considered to be a high ranking piece of tea equipment (more about: tea utensils ranking), it is ritually cleaned with the Fukusa before scooping out the powdered green tea. Shokyaku will ask for Haiken, or viewing, of this tea caddy when all guests have finished drinking.


Chakin (茶巾) (hemp cloth) : The Chakin is a rectangular, white, linen or hemp cloth used by chakin cloth to wipe chawanthe Teishu to ritually cleanse the tea bowl after a guest has finished drinking the green tea and returned it.

In the Mizuya preparation room, the Chakin is washed, then carefully stretched to remove any creases and folded two times over the length and two and one-third in width. It is placed in the Chawan together with the Chasen and Chashaku. During the tea ceremony it is removed from the Chawan and placed on the Kama or kettle lit. Different styles of Chakin are used for thick and thin tea.

Chasen (茶筅) (whisk) : Tea-whisks are carved from a single piece of bamboo. Though they are a chasen tea wisk to mix hot water with powder green teanecessary part to serve tea, Chasen whisks themselves aren't considered as Dōgu.

Chasen are made of three kinds of bamboo: They are either made of smoked bamboo, fresh bamboo, or dried bamboo, and their heads are either fine, medium, or rough. Which type of Chasen one uses, depends mainly on the type of tea served. Types of tea are thick tea Koicha, or thin tea Usucha.

Chashaku (茶杓) (tea scoop) : Chashaku tea-scoops are carved from a chashaku scoop for machasingle piece of bamboo or ivory. It is an important utensil to get the matcha proportions correct. A bamboo Chashaku in the most casual style is with a nodule in the approximate center. They are used to scoop tea from the Chaire or Natsume into the Chawan. Larger scoops are used to transfer tea into the tea caddy in the Mizuya, but these are not seen by guests. Different styles and colors are used in various tea traditions.

Chawan (茶碗) (tea bowl) : Arguably the most essential implement; without these,chawan tea bowl for serving guests green tea tea could not be served or drunk at all. Chawans are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, and different styles are used for thick and thin tea. Shallow bowls, which allow the tea to cool rapidly, are used in summer; deep bowls are used in winter to keep the green-tea hot for longer time. Bowls are frequently named by their creators or owners, or by a tea master. Bowls over four hundred years old are said to be in use today, but probably only on unusually special occasions. The best bowls are thrown by hand, and some bowls are extremely valuable. Irregularities and imperfections are prized: they are often featured prominently as the "front" of the bowl. Broken tea bowls are painstakingly repaired using a mixture of lacquer and other natural ingredients. Powdered gold is added to disguise the dark color of the lacquer, so this repair is often referred as Kintsugi or "joint with gold", and additional designs are sometimes created with the mixture. Bowls repaired in this fashion are used mainly in November, when tea practitioners begin using the Ro, or hearth, again, as an expression and celebration of the concept of Wabi, or humble simplicity.

Read about the Raku ware tea bowl made for Sen-no-Rikyu

Fukin (布巾) : Hemp cloth used to wipe the Chawan clean after having served a bowl of macha-tea to a guest. It is usually placed on the Kama lit during tea preparation. It is also used when refilling the Mizusashi with the Yakan to prevent water from spilling.

Fukusa (袱紗) (silk cloth) : The fukusa is a square silk cloth used for fukusa silk cloth to ritually clean tea utensilsthe ritual cleansing of the Chashaku and the Natsume, and to handle a hot Kama lid. Fukusa are sometimes used by guests to protect the tea implements whilst examining them (though usually these fukusa are a special style called Kobukusa or Dashibukusa). Fukusa are most often monochromatic and unpatterned, but variations exist. There are different colors for men (usually purple) and women (orange, red), for people of different ages or skill levels, for different ceremonies and for different schools. Some schools, including the Urasenke, prefer to introduce variants with brocades or patterns, while some prefer to use simpler ones. The size and way of making Fukusa was purportedly established by Sen-no-Rikyu's second wife, who was also an expert of this way.

Furo (風炉) (portable brazier) : A portable brazier used in the spring and summer seasons. furo portable brazier for summer Furo have a variety of shapes and the earliest ones were made of bronze but later iron and clay braziers became common. The unglazed clay Furo coated with black lacquer was preferred for formal use. It was placed on a lacquered board to prevent heat damage. The iron type was set on a paving tile. On the edge of a Furo a fire window or cut-out opening provided the necessary draft to keep the Sumi burning properly. A bed of ashes (Hai) was laid inside the Furo and the Sumi placed on top was lighted. The Kama was then set directly on the bronze or iron brazier, but a trivet was used for a clay brazier. Kama for portable ranges were slightly smaller than those used for fixed hearths (Ro).

Futa ( 蓋 ) (Kettle-lit / Kama-lit) : The lit of the Kama is usually referred to as the Futa. This lit is usually made of iron and has a handle made of various shapes. However, the Mizusashi also has a lit called Futa in Japanese, but "the lit" is understood to be that of the Kama.

Futa-oki (蓋置) (lit and ladle rest) : Fairly in the beginning of the tea ceremony ritual,futaoki bamboo lit restfuta-oki kettle lit rest the lit (Futa) of the kettle (Kama) is still in its place to keep the water warm. At this time the bamboo ladle (Hishaku) is placed on the Futa-oki until the first scoop of hot water needs to be drawn from the Kama. At this time the Hishaku is held in the left hand, while with the right hand the lit is removed from the Kama. Once the lit is placed on the Futa-oki, the Hishaku will be placed on the Kama when not in use.

The Futa-oki can be made of bamboo with often a nodule in the approximate middle. In some cases, this Futa-oki will be displayed on a small shelf (Tana) before and or after the ceremony, then a Futa-oki other than bamboo needs to be used. A bamboo Futa-oki will never be used to display on the Tana.

Hibachi (火鉢) (fire bowl) : The Hibachi is a utensil placed in the backroom or hibachihibachi boxMizuya and is only used for preparatory purposes. In the Hibachi the Sumi are fired up and kept burning before arranging them in the Ro or Furo. They can be a large round earthen ware pot or a bigger wooden box.

Hishaku (柄杓)(Ladle) : This is a long bamboo ladle with a nodule in the approximate hishaku bamboo water ladlecenter of the handle. It is used to transfer hot water from the iron pot (kama) to the Chawan when making tea. And from fresh water container (Mizusashi) to the Chawan and the Kama in certain ceremonies. The Hishaku is usually carried into the room with the Kensui and Futa-oki. Sometimes the Hishaku is displayed (Kazaru) on the Tana before the ceremony starts and again when the tea ceremony has finished.

Different sizes of Hishaku are used for different ceremonies and in different seasons. A larger version is used for the ritual purification undergone by guests before entering the tea room at the Tsukubai in the garden.

Kama / Chanoyugama (釜) (iron pot, or kettle) : The kama is used to heat kama water boiling kettlekama kettle with rings called Kanup the water for making the tea. The Kama is made from iron or copper. The Kama has a lit (futa) which is removed when starting to make tea and placed back at the end when all guests have had enough cups of tea. The tea ceremony Kama lids (Chanoyugama Futa) are made of cast iron, and forged at the same time as the body to match the bottoms perfectly. However, lids can also be made of bronze, copper, brass, silver and even from an ancient bronze mirror. Sometimes the Kama is moved in order to put new charcoal (Sumi) in the fire or to be hung or in very rare cases to be displayed in the Tokonoma. Two loops are cast on the shoulder to attach rings when the Kama is to be hung or carried. Kama that passed from generation to generation have special names derived from the history of the owner, the Kama shape, pattern, mouth or finish. Kama are usually round with rounded, squarish or sloping shoulders. Kama mouths have diverse shapes. Some are turned inward, others outward, while others are wide or narrow or notched. Often Kama have the shape of an ogre face, but they may have the face of a biting lion, distant mountains, pine cones, or bamboo shoots. Kama bottoms are rounded, flat and round, or flat and square.

Kensui (建水) (waste water receptacle/ bowl) : A waste-water container into which either hot kensui waste water receptacleor cold water is poured after a Chawan has been rinsed during a tea ceremony. It is made of metal, clay or plain, thin wood bent into a shallow cylindrical shape. But a bowl-shaped Kensui is most common. Some kensui are lacquered. A clean Kensui is used for each tea ceremony. Disposing of the waste water is considered an unclean task and reuse in front of guests is considered a discourtesy.

Mizusashi (水指) (cold-water container)

Natsume (棗) (tea caddy) : The natsume is named for its resemblance to the natsume fruit (the jujube). natsume powdered green tea container for usuchaNatsume powdered green tea holder for usuchaIt is short with a flat lid and rounded bottom, and is usually made of lacquered or untreated wood. Cha-ire and natsume are used in different ceremonies; normally cha-ire is used when serving koicha, and natsume for serving Usucha.

The Natsume is considered a high-ranking tea utensil and is therefore ritually whipped with the Fukusa. It can be displayed (Kazaru) on the Tana after the guests have viewed it during Haiken.

Shifuku (仕覆)(drawstring pouch) : Usually a tea caddy (Cha-ire) is put in a drawstring Shifuku draw-string-pouch for Chairepouch (shifuku) made of very fine material, such as high quality silk gold brocade, damask or striped silk called Kantou, from China, and carried into the tea ceremony room. The gorgeous material of the bag is also appreciated at a tea ceremony. The shifuku is considered a valuable item in the ceremony and the chief guest (Shokyaku) will often ask to view the pouch more closely (Haiken) when the tea ceremony is over.

One Cha-ire tea container can have a set of three to five different Shifuku so that the same Cha-ire can be used at different tea gatherings so that the guests won't see the same pouch over and over again.

Kobukusa (古帛紗) or Dashibukusa (出帛紗) (silk cloth) : A cloth approximately 15.15 cm or 6 inches square, which, unlike the cloth called dashibukusa dashifukusaFukusa, is generally of richer and thicker, brocaded and patterned fabric. Both the people on the hosting side of a Temae (tea ceremony) , as well as the guests, should each carry one. If wearing kimono, it is kept in the breast of the kimono. Guests not wearing kimono might carry it in their Kaishi wallet. The kobukusa is sometimes used by guests to protect the tea implements whilst examining them. Depending on the circumstances, the host may put one out with the tea, and because of this, kobukusa are also referred to as dashibukusa ("fukusa for serving"). The Dashibukusa is supplied with the maker's or designers name and in some cases with a poetic name. During the tea ceremony ny guests might inquire about the origins and the name so be prepared. If no name is provided you can make one up as you please, maybe in tune with the theme of the tea meeting or the season.

Ro (炉) (sunken hearth) : This hearth is used during autumn and winter ro sunken hearthseasons when it is cold. In the Tatami flooring a hole is created to put the kama in. The Kama being surrounded by a box-like frame will warm up faster and stay warm longer, moreover, it provides an image of warmth during the colder seasons. In case of the Ro, incense used is Neriko which are tiny kneaded balls from mixed woods, spices, and herbs, instead of Kouboku aromatic wood. The preparation ritual will be slightly different from the Furo procedure in spring and summer but the basics are the same.

Yakan (薬缶) (water pitcher) : The Yakan is used to refill the Mizusashi at the yakan water pitcherend of the tea ceremony in order to return the room in the same state as it was found at the beginning when the guests came in. Depending on the amount of water used during the ceremony to make tea for the guests, the same amount will be poured back into the Mizusashi from the Yakan. The Yakan is carried with the left hand in front of the body at belly level since it is not such an important item. With the right hand a Chakin silk cloth is held under the spout to prevent water from spilling while walking and it is pressed on the lit while pouring the fresh water into to the Mizusashi.

 
 

Site Search

Japanese Tea Ceremony Books

Links