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. 


  1. Once more , maybe a double posting ?

    Wow, thanks for the information, really appreciate postings like these !

    What I was wondering about, one also put the futa/lid on top of the futa-oki ..  (hence the name) , that is still possible with these designs ?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, with all of these futaoki you can put the kettle lid on them. A few like the ikkanjin, shell and gotoku you must turn the futaoki to the working side to rest the lid. The mitsuningyo you can rest it right on top of their heads with no problem. Thanks for reading and commentig.

  2. Hello; thank you for the good article! I have a question on the hoyakoko-futaoki. I know how to use it with daisu/nagaita, but I wonder how it is used for ordinary koicha/usucha (you show a picture with such a setup, i.e. close to the furo shiki ita). My question is: when and how is it closed/opened in the beginning of the temae? Is it closed/opened with the right hand when it is resting on the left hand? And how would that work in the beginning, since, when the futaoki is taken out of the kensui, the left hand holds the hishaku in kagami-bishaku. Or is it first placed in the corner to the furo and then there opened with one hand only? For the end of the temae (putting it on the tana (usucha) or behind the kensui (koicha)), I assume it is picked up, put on the left hand, closed with right hand, and then continued as usually; is that correct?
    thanks for your answers.

    1. Anonymous,
      Thank you for your comment. The hoya koro is used on the daisu or nagaita because you have a shakutate and the hishaku never rests on the futa oki.

      As for handling the hoya koro, it is like the shell, ikkanjin and the gotoku. When you sit down with kensui at the beginnig, you would first lift the hishaku handle slightly and reach in for the futa oki. The hishaku is put back on the kensui and the futa oki is placed on the left palm and turned over (or with the hoya koro, opened). The futa oki is then placed with the right hand. From there the hishaku is lifted to kagami bishaku and the temae goes on from there.

      At the end of temae, (after the guest asks for haiken), the hishaku is either displayed on the tana right away (usucha) or put on the kensui (koicha). The futa oki is then picked up with the right and put on the left palm and turned (or closed) and put on the tana with the right hand (usucha) or given to the right hand then the left and put behind the kensui.

      I hope this makes sense.