Oct 29, 2014

Rikyu's futaoki

We have been practicing with a variety of dogu this year in the intermediate classes.  I have a bronze set of the 7 futaoki supposedly favored by Rikyu. (Rikyu no nanashu no futaoki).  A futaoki is a kettle lid rest, and also can be used to rest the hishaku.  These are ways to handle and display the futaoki that I have been taught:

Kani futaoki -- crab lid-rest
The design of this lid-rest was adapted from the brush and sumi ink-stick rests of similar shape and size.  This futaoki is most appropriately used in spring and summer months.  The face of the crab determines the front and is used like any other futaoki by placing it on the tatami mat in line with angle of the hishaku.

Sazae futaoki -- turban shell lid-rest
An actual shell was used originally for this lid-rest, but was  replaced by ones made of metal and clay.  The front of the futaoki is determined by placing the pointed casing of the shell towards the fire.  It is placed in the kensui and used during temae with its underside up.  When displaying it on the tana, it is turned from right to left and placed with its underside down.

Hoyakoro futaoki - chalice shaped incense burner lid-rest
The design for this futaoki was borrowed from a lidded incense container used in Buddhist ceremonial rites.  It is used in both the ro and furo seasons when performing daisu or nagaita sokazari temae (the full display of utensils on the long board).  It is most frequently made of metal in either a five or six pointed cup design.  To determine the front, count the number of points and place one point in front if the number is odd, or two points front if the number is even.  The if this futaoki is closed when it is in the kensui, displayed the daisu or nagaita.  When it sis used it is handled like an old Japanese book -- opened from left to right and closed from right to left.  During koicha temae, the lid-rest is closed when it is not being used to support the kettle lid or hishaku.

Ikkanjin futaoki -- idle person lid-rest
This lid-rest is placed face forward, right side up in the kensui and on the tana and on its side when it is being used to support the lid and hishaku.  The boy at the well is thought of as idle, because he relaxes when he works and works when he rests.  Tu use this futaoki, pick up the hishaku with the left hand, removed the futaoki from the kensui with the right hand.  Replace the hishaku on the kensui, steady the futaoki on the left palm, turn on its side so that the boy's head will face the direction of the fire after it has been placed on the tatami.   Just the opposite of holding his feet to the fire.

 Mistuningyo futaoki -- three Chinese dolls lid-rest
The mitsuningyo futaoki probably pre-dates Rikyu as Chinese celedon examples have been found in Japanese collections.  This lid-rest may be used year-round. The doll dressed differently from the others is placed to the front.

Mitsuba futaoki -- trefoil lid-rest
This lid-rest resembles the edible trefoil plant and is used in the spring and summer months.  In the kensui and during temae, it is placed with the larger side up, with one single leaf to the far side.  To display it on the tana, it is turned over from right to left so that the larger side is down.

Gotoku futaoki -- (five virtues) trivet lid-rest
The gotoku futaoki is also called kakureiga (retreat) because the base is hidden in the ash.  It is used in the ro and furo seasons when the kettle is suspended (tsurigama), or rested on blocks (sukigigama), or directly on the brazier (kirikake buro).  It is placed in the kensui and used during temae with the circle side up and one leg to the far side.  At the end of the temae, it is turned over, right to left, and displayed with the circle down.

This is a good reference for the Rikyu no nanashu no futaoki, and I hope you all have a chance to use them in the future. 

Sep 7, 2014

Study in Japan

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Deadline: November 30, 2014

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Sep 6, 2014

My First Chakai

I'd like to introduce to you a guest blogger, Stephanie.  She is a student and has been studying for more than 2 1/2 years.  Earlier this year, she put on her first chakai:

Earlier this year I hosted my first chakai (tea gathering) for a fellow student who was returning to Japan. It was fitting that she be shokyakyu (first guest) and I teishu (host) since we had studied together for several months. My senpai (senior students) helped me plan and even agreed to be hanto (serving the tea in the tea room) and mizuya-cho (preparing everything outside of the tea room). One of my senpai painted the artistic work on the front of the invitation! I am so fortunate that Margie sensei encourages us to host chakai and for generous senpai!
Margie Sensei and Honored Guest
One of the best things about planning a chakai is that it's an integrative learning experience. It allowed me to take the individual learnings from my lessons and bring them together in a whole. Part of the learning, for me, was figuring out what needed to be done and when. For example, I needed to decide upon the guest list; select a theme; make and send the invitations; purchase fresh tea, whisk and chakin (linen cloth for purification); select the utensils and appropriate poetic names; write up the kaiki (a list of the utensils with names); decide upon and make/procure sweets and much more.
Tea Bowl Name: Haru Gasumi, Spring Mist, named by First Guest
I also wanted to honor my friend and teachers by doing my best at making tea and so I practiced the temae (tea procedure) many times at home, until I could more or less complete it without egregious error. I aspired to a place of familiarity so that I could also speak during the tea-making. This can be a challenge, but an important one as much of the theme is revealed through the stories told. I believe that practice is always a worthy path and it has paid off for me in multiples, as my comfort with the basic procedure has grown tremendously through the experience.

The day of the chakai, my senpai and I arrived early. They were so wonderful, I can't say thanks enough! They helped me clean, wipe the tatami, hang the scroll, arrange the flowers, set up the utensils, etc. We even had time for a dry run which helped me feel much more at ease. One of my senpai dressed me in kimono (so that it would go faster than my 2.5 hour process!), and then the guests arrived. 
Stephanie (host, center) and Senpai
From this point onward, things unfolded in their natural order and I believe the experience was meaningful to everyone involved. My hands shook visibly as I placed the chashaku (tea scoop) onto the natsume (tea container) and I forgot to open the lid to the mizusashi (cold water jar) at the right time, among numerous other minor blunders. Margie sensei had trained me well to make my mistakes as beautifully as possible and carry on. My heart was filled with warmth to honor my friend and the other guests. The tea was made and served, the stories were told and the conversations were lovely, making for a once-in-a-lifetime tea gathering.

Aug 27, 2014

Summer chakai

The students from Issoan Tea put on their summer chakai last weekend.  I am going to post photos and kaiki.  It was a playful twist to the theme.

Here is a photo of the invitation:

"Stretches for light years,
Satellites transmitting
A mass of pitch black."
by James, published by NASA's Going to Mars Campaign 2013,
collected for the MAVEN Spacecraft launch
Front artwork by Michelle Kottwitz

To celebrate friendship and a sci-fi classic, please join us for a light snack, usucha and sweets
Issoan Tea school
Sunday, August 24th
RSVP to Karla Tomanka or Margie Yap
Kimono not required. Being a trekkie not required.










Edited to add sweets, Tribbles made of an, communicators made of yokan

Star Trek Chakai 2014 Kaiki

Osayu:  Earl Grey tea, hot
Meal:  Three dish rice, miso and raw dish
Scroll: Shikishi "Engage" by Margie Yap
Hana: Seasonal
Hanaire: Bizen hyotan hanging vase
Temae: Arai jakin
Mizusashi:  Found object, metal box
Chashaku: "Live long and prosper"  carved metal family heirloom by George Takei, named by Leonard Nimoy
Futaoki: Cactus skeleton, by Randy Burks
Kensui: Hammered copper
Chamei: "Far point"  local blend
Sweets: Tribbles made of an, communicators made of yokan
Natsume: Black lacquer Rikyu-gata, medium size with stars
Chawan: Glass bowl "Amanogawa" (The Milky Way) by Kunihiko Hirohata
Kaejawan: Gold leaf bowl "Snow storm" by Hirota
Gift: Fish tile