茶の湯 in サンフランシスコ ・ Japanese Tea Ceremony を San Franciscoで

表千家四方社中の茶の湯ブログ Japanese Tea Ceremony Blog for Shikata Shachu – Omotesenke

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五節句・Five Major Feasts




July 7 is “Tanabata,” which is one of the five major feasts (or “go-sekku” ) in Japan.


The term “sekku” originally referred to food items offered to gods at times of seasonal transition.  Today “sekku” is written as “節句” – but the characters originally used were “節供,” signifying “transition (節)” and “offering (供).”  There are many “sekku” but the following are the five major ones.

  • 1月7日 – 人日(七草の節句)


Jinjitsu・・・Time to eat rice porridge with seven herbs.  January 7. Also known as “Nanakusa-no-sekku” (the Feast of Seven Herbs).

  • 3月3日 – 上巳(桃の節句)


Jo’ushi/Jo’umi ・・・Originally celebrated on the first day of “巳” (shi or mi – one of 10 elements) of March. Later the date was fixed on March 3 and celebrated as “Hina matsuri” – which is primarily a girls’ festival.  Also known as “Momo-no-sekku” (the Feast of Peaches).

  • 5月5日 – 端午(菖蒲の節句)


Tango・・・A feast celebrated on May 5 to pray for boys’ healthy and strong growth. Also known as “Sho’ubu-no-sekku” (the Feast of Irises).

  • 7月7日 – 七夕(星祭)


Tanabata・・・Hikoboshi (a cow herder represented by Altair) and Orihime (Weaver Princess represented by Vega), who are separated by the Milky Way, can meet only once a year on the evening of July 7. Also known as “Hoshi matsuri” (the Star Festival).

  • 9月9日 – 重陽(菊の節句)


Cho’uyo’uo・・・Celebrated on September 9 by lunar calendar.  Also known as “Kiku-no-sekku” (the Feast of Chrysanthemums).  It is a day of “double 9” and 9 is considered a “yang” number (as opposed to “ying”) – hence worthy of celebration.



Originally posted June 23, 2014


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小暑と大暑・Sho’usho and Taisho



Around July 7, when the feast of tanabata is celebrated, it also marks the beginning of sho’usho.  It is the 15th day since geshi or summer solstice.  “Sho’usho” means that “the heat gradually intensifies.”  Sure enough, this is when Japan starts to really heat up.  A real summer is here.


And 大暑 begins around July 23.  Doyo’u, known as an occasion for eating eels to keep your strength up and summer fatigue away, is also around this time.  “Taisho” means the hottest season – but in reality, the worst summer heat is yet to come.

ナナカマドななかまど・Japanese Rowan (nanakamado)

Description de cette image, également commentée ci-après三白草・Saururaceae (mitsujirogusa)


By the way, the following is a passage in the book written by our Grand Master:


A single flower in the alcove will augment the sense of coolness.  The whiteness of mukuge and nanakamado.  The pure white of mitsujirogusa (saururaceae ).  The light and airy striped reeds.  Each one creates a pleasant feeling.  Speaking of the alcove, it is a season to use hana’ire of unique shapes, such as ships, fishing boats and shoes.  Ship-shaped hana’ire can be of a variety of materials, such as ceramics and metal alloy (sahari made of copper, lead and tin).  A fine chain is hung from the alcove ceiling, and the hana’ire is hung from it.





Originally posted July 3, 2015

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七月には涼を求む・Seeking Coolness in July


July.  Kyoto is abuzz with Gion Festival.  It must be very hot in Japan, and out of thoughtfulness, attempts are made to lower the temperature within the tea room by reducing the size of a kama or furo used.  San Francisco does not get as hot even in summer – but our Shachu also often brings out a kiri’awaseburo (a furo made in such a way that a kama fits snugly in the opening of the furo), or a smallish unryu’ugama.  It is also a busy season for a hiramizusash (a wide and flat mizusashi), tsurube (a wood mizusashi made to look like a square bucket used at a well lowered into water), hirajawan (a wide and flat chawan), and badarai (a wide and flat chawan in the shape of a water trough for horses).

Let’s review some seasonal “me’i“(銘) (names) for July appropriate for tea utensils (based on another blog available here (Japanese only).

(Alternate Names for July)

  • Fumizuki (文月)(the month of letters/scholarship)
  • Tanabatazuki (七夕月)(the month of Tanabata)
  • Nanayozuki (七夜月)(the month of Tanabata)
  • Ominaeshizuki (女郎花月)(the month of Patrina)
  • Rangetsu (蘭月)(the month of urabon)(盂蘭盆 or today commonly referred to as obon/お盆)
  • Ryo’ugetsu (涼月)(the month of coolness)(not a wishful thinking – but because July was the beginning of autumn by lunar calendar)
  • Oyazuki (親月)(the month of parents – for visiting parents’ graves for obon)
  • Mo’ushu’u (孟秋)(the beginning of autumn)
  • Cho’ushu’u (肇秋)(the beginning of autumn)
  • To’ugetsu (桐月)(the month of paulownia)
  • Jokushu’u (蓐収)(autumn).

See here for more on Tanabata.

(Top “Me’i” Suggestions)

  • Tanabata (七夕)・・・One of the five major feasts.  Hikoboshi (a cow herder represented by Altair) and Orihime (Weaver Princess represented by Vega), who are separated by the Milky Way, can meet only once a year on the evening of July 7.
  • Sho’usho (小暑)・・・One of 24 solar terms. Around July 8.  Start of hot days ahead.
  • Taisho ( 大暑)・・・One of 24 solar terms.  Around July 21.  The height of summer heat.
  • Doyo’u ( 土用)・・・Generally refers to doyo’u in summer, which is 18 days before risshyu’u (the beginning of autumn).
  • Kiko’uden (乞巧奠)・・・July 7 by lunar calendar.  The Imperial Palace celebrated the evening since the Nara Period (710-) by making offerings to Altair and Vega.
  • Himuro (氷室)・・・A cave in the mountain side to store ice until summer.
  • Aogochi (青東風)・・・East winds blowing on doyo’u.  Also called doyo’ugochi.
  • Fujimo’ude (富士詣)・・・To visit the shrine at the summit of Mount Fuji between June 1 and June 21 (lunar calendar).  Also known as fujimairi.  Today the mountain opening day is July 10.




(七月の異名)  文月 七夕月 七夜月 女郎花月 蘭月 涼月 親月 肇秋 桐月 蓐収

  • 七夕・・・たなばた。五節句の一。7月7日の夜、天の川の両岸にある牽牛星と織女星とが年に1度相会する。
  • 小暑・・・しょうしょ。二十四節気のひとつ。7月8日頃。この日から暑気に入る。
  • 大暑・・・たいしょ。二十四節気のひとつ。7月21日頃。暑さが最もきびしい。
  • 土用・・・どよう。普通には夏の土用を指す。立秋の前18日を夏の土用という。
  • 乞巧奠・・・きこうでん。陰暦7月7日の夜、供え物をして牽牛・織女星をまつる行事。宮中の儀式として奈良時代から行われた。
  • 氷室・・・ひむろ。氷を夏まで貯蔵しておくための室または山かげの穴。
  • 青東風・・・あおごち。土用に吹く東風。土用東風ともいう。
  • 富士詣・・・ふじもうで。陰暦6月1日から21日までの間に富士山に登り、山頂の富士権現社に参詣すること。富士参り。今では7月10日が山開きとなっている。

Previously posted July 1, 2015