May 9, 2010

Tea utensils that will last 400 years

There are many examples of tea utensils from the 16th century and earlier because they were so well taken care of.  Tea utensils were made to be used rather than put away in the closet, never to see the light of day.  So get out your tea utensils (dogu) and use them, but take care of them as if you want them to last 400 years.

I remember my sensei teaching me how to care for the iron kettle after class, how to wash and dry teabowls, and care for lacquer with gloves.  There is a certain way to tie the boxes that dogu come in so that you can stack them. Paying attention to detail with thoughtfulness and carefulness shows respect for the dogu, but also for yourself. The attention to detail in taking care of your dogu shows more about your character and state of mind than how perfect your temae is. 

Taking care of your dogu doesn't just apply to tea utensils, it is how you treat everything in your life. Like the famous baseball player Ichiro:

The man whose first name has come to symbolize greatness in hitting might also be the most meticulous player when it comes to caring for the tools of his trade. He rubs the soles of his feet every day with a rounded wooden stick. He cleans his own spikes and glove after games. And he prefers to carry his own bats, which are cut from Japanese ash wood called aodamo and custom made from specs chosen by Ichiro on a tour of the Mizuno factory in Japan in 1992. "I've never seen anybody that I've played with take care of their equipment with just carefulness, thoughtfulness. Most guys throw their gloves around. Not him," he said. "He told me that when he cleans his glove up after the game, that means he's already thought about the game that day and while he's wiping it off he is wiping off the game that day."

Want more detailed information on how to care for your tea utensils?  Here's a post written by Gary-sensei.

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