Tea Ceremony Equipment for Guests

Youji (stainless steel sweet forks) 楊枝

Youji sweet forks should be carried by all guests coming to the tea ceremony. When moist sweets called Omogashi are served before drinking Koicha thick tea, these are placed on the Kaishi paper with Kuromoji chopsticks. Omogashi are moist and therefore they shouldn’t be handled with the hands because this makes the fingers sticky. It would be quite rude to handle the other utensils like the Chawan, Dashibukusa etc. with sticky fingers, so the Youji is used to bring the Omogashi from the Kaishi paper to the mouth. Sometimes when the Omogashi is too large to eat in one bite, it can be cut once or twice using the same Youji. The Youji should be carried together with the Kaishi paper.

Youji sweet picks for WagashiYouji sweet pick in holder
Youji and Youji holder Youji placed in holder

Sensu (Japanese folding fan) 扇子 

The Sensu is a very traditional Japanese folding fan which is used by almost all Japanese on a daily basis during the summer. It is convenient because of the folding quality it can be stored in the pocket, purse, bag, etc. In many traditional Japanese arts such as Kabuki and dancing the Sensu is used. During the Japanese tea ceremony however, the Sensu is not used as a fan. It is used to put in front of the knees when greeting the Teishu or when bowing to the Kakajiku and the Chabana. Placing the Sensu in front of the knees is a polite gesture. During the tea ceremony the Shokyaku will place it on his or her right side, the other guests will place the Sensu behind them. The Sensu is never opened before, during, nor after the Japanese tea ceremony. Even during the soaring hot summer, one should bring an extra Sensu for cooling themselves.

sensu japanese folding fanSensu folding fan in folded and unfolded state. The Sensu can be decorated with all kinds of drawings and paintings. These can depict the season, an old folk tale or just scenery. In this example there is something written on the Sensu. In old times people would use the Sensu as a memo to write the things they had to remember. Sometimes famous expressions or poems were written so that these could be read over again during the day.

Kaishi 懐紙 (paper dish or napkin)

Kaishi paper are carried by all guests and sometimes by the Teishu (host) as well. The stack of Kaishi is put in the over-lap of the Kimono at chest hight. When the guests are presented with sweets, these sweets are placed onto the Kaishi paper with Kuromoji chopsticks. The Chopsticks called Kuromoji are wiped clean with the top right corner of the Kaishi paper before placing them on the Fuchidaka, Higashibon or Kashiki sweets bowl again. This is done whether they are clean or not, it is a gesture of cleanliness and respect for the next guest who is going to use the same Kuromoji to take his or her sweets. Kaishi paper usually comes in packs of around thirty sheets and is folded in half. Before placing Omogashi or Kashi on the Kaishi paper, one sheet is taken from the stack and placed on top of the others. To eat the Kashi or Omogashi the whole pack of Kaishi papers is lifted up and a Youji or single short Kuromoji is used as a fork to eat and sometimes cut the sweets. After eating the sweets, the Kaishi stack is placed in front of the knees again and the Youji or short Kuromoji is wiped clean before putting it back into the pocket. The used Kaishi on top of the stack is folded a few more times and is stored in the left Kimono sleeve. The unused Kaishi are placed in the Kimono at the chest. The Teishu might carry some Kaishi to wipe the Chashaku at the end of the tea ceremony when a valuable Fukusa is used to prevent it from becoming too dirty. The Teishu can also use the Kaishi to wipe some spilled water or tea from the Tatami mat.

Kaishi paper folded side viewkaishi paper with omogashi sweets

Dashibukusa 出し帛紗 or Kobukusa 古帛紗 (small brocaded cloth)

The Dashibukusa is about one fourth the size of a Fukusa used by the Teishu. Dashibukusa are used when presenting valuable utensils like the Tabakobon or a Chawan to protect them from damage. Both the Teishu and Shokyaku should carry one whilst attending a tea ceremony.

When Koicha (Thick tea) is served, a Dashibukusa is placed beside the Chawan by the host. Dashibukusa indicates that a valuable Chawan is used and that Macha is supposed to be shared with the other guests. In the unlikely event that a Dashibukusa is not provided by the host, the guests or at least the Shokyaku should always carry one just in case. The Dashibukusa is unfolded to its full width and placed on the palm of the left hand. With the right hand the Chawan is placed on the Dashibukusa. Now the Chawan is held securely with both hands and about three sips of Koicha can be enjoyed. After drinking the Chawan is placed in front of the knees again and the Dashibukusa is viewed before passing it on to the next guests with the right hand.

kobukusa dashibukusa bracaded cloth

japanese green tea


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