A Chashaku is a spoon-like utensil used to scoop maccha tea powder into a tea bowl.
The chashaku originally came from a metal medicine spoon used in China, which had a potato leaf shaped scoop. The other end of the stem was rounded in order to crush medicine easily.
In the Muromachi period, when the tea ceremony was established, people began to think that metal teaspoons might damage the tea set. They then started to make Chasaku from bamboo.
Upon the ascendance of Sen no Rikyu as the most influential tea master in the Sengoku period, Keishuso first designed a chashaku with a joint for Rikyu. Hochiku, who studied under Keishuso and who became a chashaku artisan for Rikyu, completed the establishment of chakasu design as an art form.
The bamboo most commonly used for chashaku is from the Nigatake bamboo family, especially Sarashitake bamboo.
Chashaku is 17~21cm in length. The end used to scoop tea powder is oval-shaped, 1cm width and 2cm length, and it is bent to make the scoop.
Chashaku is considered to be essential to the traditional tea ceremony and it is as beautiful as it is functional.
Daishoji is located in today's Kaga city in Ishikawa Prefecture. This was once a thriving castle town within the highly productive million-koku branch domain of the Kaga Domain.
Daishoji is a place where history and tradition live. The streets still retain a mellow and relaxed atmosphere evocative of the Edo period. At the base of the Kinjo mountain castle are the old Zen and Nichiren Buddhist temples standing side by side. Visitors come all year round to see the historical sites here.
Among the temples, Jisshouin is famous throughout Japan for its beautiful wisteria. The gilt-painted shoji screens are also magnificent. Choryu-Tei pavilion and garden, located in the grounds of the Enuma Shrine and once part of the mansion of Daishoji's 3rd lord, seem to imitate the Kenrokuen garden. Here the elaborate and detailed drawing room and tea room are interesting. This garden is designated as an important national asset.
Chasen is one of the utensils of the Japanese tea ceremony. It is a bamboo whisk to mix matcha with hot water evenly in a bowl and make it foamy. There are about 120 kinds of chasen with variety of shapes, materials and the number of ears at the head. Which chasen to select depends on a school of tea ceremony or a tea master’s preference. Basically there are two kinds of chasen; Kazuho, which has thin and sparse ear at the head, is used for usucha (thin tea), while Araho, which has thick and dense ear at the head, is used for koicha (thin tea). To use a chasen in a formal manner, one holds a chawan (tea bowl) with the non-dominant hand and holds a bamboo handle of chasen with a thumb, the index finger and the middle finger of the dominant hand. Here, we can see emphasis on the formal beauty that is in common with calligraphy. Chasen is an indispensable tool for Japanese tea ceremony culture.
Designated as the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage “Chanoyugama” (Living National Treasure) in 1996. Born in 1920 in Yamagata City, Miyagi Prefecture, Keiten Takahashi succeeded the family business of foundry at the age of 19 in 1938 and studied under Tetsushi Nagano, the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage “Chanoyugama.” By selecting high quality river sand and clay and persisting in continual production method from molding and casting to coloring and finishing, Takahashi creates Chagama (Metal Furo Brazier), which has an elegant shape and soft metal texture. To produce first-class product, he orders iron sand from Shimane Pref., which is said to be very difficult to obtain, and furthermore, he selects the superior ones by feeling with his own fingers. Saying that time and labor yield a good product, he is particular about every step in the making process and sometimes takes as many as 3 months to finish one work. The shape, patterns and metal texture, all perfectly harmonize in Takahashi’s Chagama. His Chagama is highly evaluated as a sharp and sophisticated art work.
Chanoyugama, or tea kettle, is a traditional artwork and occupies an important position in the world of the tea ceremony. Its significance is evident as people say “put a kettle on” to mean to hold a tea ceremony.
80% of the tea kettles are said to be produced in Yamagata Prefecture and this traditional iron casting was designated as a traditional art by the Ministry of Economic Affair in 1975.
Casting and tea kettle making in Yamagata dates back to Heian period when Minamotono Yoriyoshi visited Yamagata during Zen Kunen no Eki Battle (1058~1064). He accompanied foundry craftsmen who discovered that the soil around Mamigasaki River running through the Yamagata City was suitable for the casting process. Some of these people stayed and started production.
The vessel is characterized by its coarse, rough surface. The traditional techniques that create a rough surface such as Monyoou-oshi, Hadauchi and Kinkidome have been handed down, and the tea kettle which has a simple appearance yet exhibits an imposing presence, is still produced in large numbers.
Japanese tea used for tea ceremonies is called “matcha,” and there are two types of matcha; koicha (thick tea) and usucha (thin tea). Usucha is put in a container called “usuchaki,” while koicha in “koichaki.” In the ancient times, koicha was mainly used for tea ceremonies, but later in the 16th century, when Wabi-cha (the tea ceremony that emphasizes on simplicity) became popular, usucha began to be favored due to its plain taste and moderate price.
Natsume is a typical tea container for usucha. Natsume may be made of wood, lacquer over layers of paper, ceramic or metal. The designs also vary from the unpatterned to the ones with colorful pictures of the season. Natsume is selected in accordance with other equipments.
As natsume is simple in shape, the craftsmen’s conscience as well as the appearance quality decides the excellence of the work. It is a most suitable item for the modest atmosphere of the tea ceremony.
Ohi pottery is a traditional handicraft handed down for about 330 years in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The making of Ohi pottery dates back to 1666, when the fifth lord of the Kaga domain, Tsunanori Maeda, invited the founder of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony, Senso Soshitsu, from Kyoto. At this time the first Chozaemon Ohi accompanied him to make tea utensils. Chozaemon found suitable clay at Ohi village and started making tea bowls and jugs that suited Soshitsu’s taste. He became the founder of Ohi pottery.
Ohi pottery masters have succeeded the name of Chozaemon Ohi and now the tenth generation of Chozaemon Ohi carries on the tradition.
Ohi pottery is made in a unique process, which uses no potter's wheels. The pottery is shaped by hand and working-out of the details is given by knives and planers. A special glaze is used to produce a unique amber coloring, which gives a very sensitive and mysterious impression.
The works of the successive generations of Chozaemon Ohi are displayed at Ohi Pottery Museum, which is located next to the kiln of the present generation.
Kaishi is Japanese tissue paper folded and tucked inside the front of one’s kimono, used especially for writing poems or letters or for placing sweets, cleaning the edge of a tea bowl and so on at the tea ceremony. It is also called “Futokoro-gami” or “Tatougami.”
Kaishi paper dates back to the early 7th century, when paper making technology was introduced to Japan from China. It became widely used in the Heian period (794-1192), when the Kokufu Bunka (Japan’s original national culture) developed and writing waka (classical court poems) and other forms of poems became popular among the noble class. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Kaishi paper was indispensable article for tea ceremony.
Kumano Kaishi and Yoshino Kaishi are famous as traditional handicraft today. Kaishi paper with various patterns such as cherry blossoms, plum flowers or autumn leaves is sold now. It is not only used for tea ceremony or writing poems but also used for many purposes such as wrapping gifts or serving sweets. Kaishi paper is a Japanese wisdom, which meets the trend of ecological consciousness today.