May 26, 2008

Kaiki -- the tea record

At the welcome chakai for Dr. Genshitsu a couple of weeks ago at the Fairmont Hotel in Seattle, we were fortunate to be provided with a program of events by the hosts, the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Seattle Association. Included in the program was a kaiki for both seki (tea gathering sessions). These tea records have survived from Rikyu’s time and by looking at them, we get an idea of what kind of tea gatherings and utensils that were used in those long ago tea gatherings.

In one room there was a Misonodana (table style) tea and in another there was a Chabako (portable traveling box) with many utensils done by very well known collectible artists. The kaiki is a record of the tea utensils and the sweets or other food served at a tea gathering. It serves as a personal memento of the gathering, and as a record of the host’s thoughtfulness in putting together a particular arrangement of utensils.

For example in the Misonodana seki the kettle was a hexagonal Mt. Fuji hailstone kettle made by Josei Sato. The mizusashi (cold water jar) was a Shoko ware cherry blossom with a box inscribed by Hounsai Daisosho. The chashaku (tea scoop) was made by Hounsai Daisosho and its poetic name is “Jiai” (deep compassion).

The chabako seki had an octagonal iron kettle with scenery on all sides; its handle was a bamboo pattern with inlaid silver. The chabako was Setsugekka (snow, moon, flower) box made by Ikkan (one of the famous ten craftsman lines of the Sen families). It came in a box inscribed by Tantansai (14th generation Urasenke grand tea master) and was one of only three boxes ever made. The natsume (tea container) was flat natsume with cherry blossoms and a petal lacquered in the back of the lid, made by Sotetsu, another one of the ten craft families.

These are just examples of some of the utensils that were used. I personally did not get to see all of the utensils close up because I was working in the back. (But I did get to wash the black raku bowl by Seinyu, what a thrill). So I was able to at least see what kinds of utensils were used in the seki.

I have kept all of the kaiki I have received, and I look at them when ever I am putting together utensils for a tea gathering. It gives me ideas and also I get to re-live the tea gathering that I attended previously.


  1. Thank you for sharing the kaiki from Seattle. This gives such a strong sense of the taste of Daisosho and of the atmosphere of the seki. It's wonderful.

    Kaiki is something that doesn't seem to be much discussed in English, so your explanation is really kind and helpful. I've started writing a kaiki for every tea event I attend so that I have a lasting mental photograph of the utensils selected by the host. (Sometimes the subtler or deeper reasons for the selection only become apparent to me later on - if even then! ;-)

  2. chamekke,

    Thank you for reading the blog and commenting. I am still thrilled about Daisosho's visit to Seattle. It is good to make notes about tea events you attend. Like you said, sometimes the subtler reasons for utensil selection and how it fits the theme of the gathering is only apparent later on.

    You are apparently a good chado student, and have attended many tea events. I hope you will continue to contribute your experience. I appreciate your perspective, too.

    Please feel welcome to continue sharing.