Monday, April 9, 2012

Japanese Chabako tea ritual

Greetings from Chabako Crazy aka Linda Mosley.

April 9, 2012
This is the first entry in a blog about my interest in chabako, a special little box filled with most of the utensils used to make a bowl of matcha (green tea).  

Chabako Crazy

The craziness started in the mid 1980s when I saw a picture in a Japanese magazine of a lady kneeling on a tatami mat with a small rectangular lidded basket, precious little tea things and their drawstring bags carefully arranged in front of her. I was already studying chanoyu but at that time could not imagine that I would ever reach the level of using these intriguing things myself. Now I know that they are for a special procedure called shikishi date, named because the small brocade napkins are spread around like shikishi, poem cards.

After studying chanoyu for three years here in Austin, I’ve begun to learn the four chabako temae (procedures). I’ve become even fonder of the process: packing the smaller scale items necessary to make a bowl of tea and serve tiny sweets, bringing them out for the guest, and then putting them back into their little wooden box until the next opportunity.

First I searched for a lidded box of similar dimensions to practice the temae. It’s not an easy size to find in the US. Then in my pottery studio, I made a small chawan (teabowl), a furidashi (jar for tiny hard sugar candy) and a chakin-tsutsu (holder for small wet cloth to clean the chawan).

My first "real" chabako set
After two failed attempts to bid for a chabako set on eBay, I finally had a winning bid and have enjoyed using the traditional utensils that came with it.  In addition I ordered a second set of matching chakin tsu-tsu, chasen tsu-tsu and natsume with the striped koma pattern of a child’s toy top to use on certain occasions.

It was so much fun to think of different combinations of utensils to use in my chabako! I decided to create a Cowboy Chabako when I discovered a small glass boot that could be used as a chakin-tsu-tsu. When I told a good friend about my project, she found a great little blue enamelware coffee pot that is perfect as a tetsubin (hot water kettle).  I could use these things with my traditional chabako, but I intend to make a lidded box out of leather and add a few other touches to complete the theme. I'll post some photos later...

Now I’m thinking it would be fun to create even more chabako with special themes.  I think I must be chabako-crazy! 



  1. I sure wish there was a place on your blog where I'd be notified of new posts. Do you think you could do that... or ask your husband.

  2. Dear Ms. Mosley, I stumbled across this page while trying to learn more about Japanese tea ceremony utensils. Your ceramics look amazing! And your creative chabako are inspiring. Thank you for posting!

  3. Thanks Tea Apprentice, for your kind comments.