Thursday, July 16, 2015

Something More Significant than the Taste of Tea

Delightful Reception

Despite we are still in the rainy season, it was damn hot in these past few days. This Sunday, I went to Toki, Gifu for a thing that I look forward to every month. An ice block welcomed me, which I found at the entrance of the tea house. I was captivated by the delightful art work. It is the host’s consideration for guests to feel cool. It won’t help much to drop down the actual temperature physically but it gives a visual refreshment. The guests can feel coolness in their mind. I thought it was quite sophisticated.

Cool Even Though It’s Hot

In the tea room, as I wiped the sweat off my forehead, I listened to the host talking and watched her prepare. Another surprise was in the room. Usually, the lid of the water container is made of ceramic or wood but it was a dewy green leaf which was as large as a baseball glove. It looked fresh and cool. This can be another ingenuity to create a sense of coolness. Also, the chakin linen cloth came in the bowl which is filled with water. When the host picked up the chakin, the dripping water made a refreshingly cool sound. The cool rendition was provided even by sound.

Images on Google:
- The leaf lid 
- The chakin linen cloth in water

Preciousness in One-time Use

I have seen pictures of the leaf lids. However, this was my first time to see the actual performance. It must have been troublesome for the host in preparing the leaf from picking and cleaning it. I was curious how to handle the leaf in the ceremony. After taking off the lid, she folded it a few times. What surprised me was that she stab the folded leaf with its stem, probably not to open back. Wow, she is not going to use it again!? Then, she put it in the waste-water receptacle. I was impressed with the decisiveness of single-use. You might have an image that old and rustic utensils are appreciated in The Way of Tea. However, the value of freshness also receives recognition, and some of items made of bamboo or solid wood are meant for one-time use. Same goes with the leaf lid. The leaf was prepared just for us. I was thankful for the effort and hospitality of the host.

Not Only Tea but Sensuousness

This ceremony was a great example in practicing the concept of “Make it seem warm in winter, and cool in summer” which is one of the Seven Essentials of The Way of Tea by Rikyu. The host tried to provide the sense of coolness. It was held in Urasenke tradition and the leaf lid seems to be a special arrangement for summer. I was very much impressed and amazed by it. I wish that Omotesenke that I practice had this kind of procedure. Anyhow, what I experienced this month was the principle of chanoyu. The sensuous artifice or the consideration to your guests is what we should care about. It will be more crucial than the taste of tea. The solicitude will definitely enrich your tea and make it alluring.

Related link: The essentials: 4. Make it seem warm in winter, and cool in summer


  1. I really enjoyed your account of tea in Gifu and the beautiful photographs!

    For your information, the leaf-lid practice is called habuta-demae and the chakin in water is called arai-jakin. Both otemae were created by Gengensai, the 11th Urasenke oiemoto, as special "cooling" temae for the hot months of July and August. I especially like the way that the mizusashi is left in the tearoom at the end (after the leaf is folded and discarded) - both so that the guests can enjoy the cool appearance of the surface of the water, and to eliminate the awkwardness of carrying it back and forth.

    1. Hi, chamekke-san, Thank you for your information. So, you do practice Urasenke. Habuta and araijakin are an absolutely tasteful temae! I love it. It is interesting for me to learn the differences by attending different ceremonies. The other time, I saw a Gogyodana of Urasenke. The host told me the story of its origin. Joining tea ceremonies is so much fun!

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