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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Tatakinuri” Lespedeza natsume (medium)


Lacquer ware done with the “tatakinuri” technique has a matte finish and slightly rough texture.


Materials such as crushed egg shells, tofu and okara (a pulpy material left over in the tofu manufacturing process) are mixed into lacquer, and the mixture is applied with a sponge by tapping (by “tataki” motions).  The surface is then smoothed out with a roller.


I hear that “tatakinuri” is very hardy.  Indeed, the technique is also used for a body armor for kendo’u (Japanese-style fencing).





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月見団子・Moon-viewing Dumplings

Tsukimi,moon-viewing-party,japan.JPG山形に盛られた月見団子・Moon-viewing dumplings arranged in a mountain shape
Tsukimi,moon-viewing-party,japan” by katorisi. Licensed under CC 表示 3.0 via ウィキメディア・コモンズ.



Why dumplings for moon viewing?  Moon viewing originated as a harvest celebration.  Sweet potatoes and beans were initially offered to the moon as a token of thanksgiving.  Later people began to use round sweet dumplings made of rice flour – due to the association of the round shape with the moon.


Why arrange the dumplings in a pointed mountain shape?  The pointed end is believed to lead to the “spiritual realm.”  It may be for a similar reason that morijio (a chunk of salt at the entrance of a house to ward off evil) and tatezuna (ceremonial mounds of sand at a Shinto’u shrine) have pointed cone shapes.


Morijio in Japan.JPG

Morijio in Japan” by Show ryu. Licensed under CC 表示-継承 3.0 via ウィキメディア・コモンズ.



Originaly published October 22, 2014

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桂籠・Katsura Kago



A basket hana’ire named “Katsura gawa” was originally a fish basket that Rikyu’u saw a fisherman using at the Katsura River in Kyoto.  Rikyu’u got it from him and used it as a hanging hana’ire by adding a metal ring in the back.  Its copies are also known as “Katsura kago” (Katsura basket) or “Katsura gawa kago” (Katsura River basket).



The second Grand Master, Sho’u’an, passed it to the third Grand Master, So’utan.  When So’uhen Yamada, who studied tea from So’utan, relocated to Edo (today’s Tokyo) to be a tea teacher in So’utan’s stead, So’utan gave it to him.  So’uhen wrote in red lacquer its name “Katsura gawa” along with his ka’o on the bamboo insert.


Once relocated to Edo, So’uhen was involved in carrying out chaji at the residence of Kira Ko’uzukenosuke, who was a fellow student under So’utan.  Gengo O’otaka, one of the famous forty-seven ro’unin, became a student of So’uhen’s, and learned Kira’s tea event schedule to plan his assassination.  Kira’s head, to avoid being stolen by the Kira loyalists, was sent by boat to Sengaku-ji while the forty-seven ro’unin marched with this hana’ire wrapped in a piece of cloth, pierced atop a spear.


The original “Katsura gawa” is held by Ko’usetsu Museum today.  It is said that there is a repair – about the width of a spear blade – at the bottom of the basket.