Friday, June 22, 2012

I found a clear box that is pretty close to the correct chabako proportions, but the lid has a white edge so I didn't include it in this photo. Now I'm sure that I want to invest in a very nice clear box and will research having one made.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Omogashi, sweets for chanoyu

This is slightly off topic, but I want to describe what an enjoyable day I had yesterday. After we went out for lunch I made a quick and casual bonryaku tea at home for my friend so that we could share the beautiful omogashi, moist sweet, that another friend kindly brought back from her recent trip to Japan. Even though omogashi are usually served with koicha, thick tea, we enjoyed it with usucha.

It was hot outdoors.The sweets looked cool on the white plate that I made and the matcha looked refreshing through the clear glass chawan. It was a lovely, spontaneous, ichi-go ichi-e moment.

Then I visited my daughter and sweet 2 week old grandson. What a wonderful day!

Omogashi, moist sweets package

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Glass Chawan for Summer

chawan with chabako-size chasen & chashaku
This is the new double-walled glass chawan that I just acquired for the clear chabako set I'm collecting.

Glass is sometimes used to give a cool icy feeling in the hottest time of the summer. I'm still looking for a clear plastic or Lucite box to hold the clear utensils I have gathered so far. 

Using glass also represents the feeling of the fragility of each moment in the tea ritual, the sense of ichi-go ichi-e, that this meeting will never happen again in the same way and should be savored.

clear utensils for chabako

As the guest, it is interesting to see one's hand through the glass while drinking. It is reminiscent of the custom, before the tea gathering begins, of stopping at the tsukubai, stone water basin, in the roji, tea hut garden. Each person bends down to rinse both hands and then cup water into one hand to rinse their mouth with water. This act of cleansing in the  physical world reminds us to also clear our mental state and enter the tea hut with a pure heart. In this sense, glass utensils are also symbolic of clear water and purity as well as coolness. 


As the host, it is good to know that the double wall keeps the outside cool to the touch. The chawan needs to be held as a temmoku chawan when emptying the rinse water into the kensui (waste water bowl) since it does not have a distinct foot to grip.

Have a cool summer!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A new chabako

Eventually I would like to learn shikishi-date, the most advanced chabako procedure that employs a lidded basket instead of wooden box. Since I can't afford the beautiful sets offered online ($2000 USD), I have been collecting the parts, by adapting or making the things needed (See April 13, 2012 post).

It's difficult in the US to find boxes and baskets in the correct chabako proportions: 6" tall x 5.5 inches wide x 8.5" long, with walls thin enough that a 4.25" diameter teabowl will fit inside.

After many weeks of searching in antique shops, resale shops and online, I finally bought an affordable lidded basket listed as a Chinese lunch basket. Good news: it has great proportions and is in nice condition. Bad news: it has a large wooden handle, is not the desired dark brown color and lacks a brocade fabric lining.

My first thought was to cut the wooden handle off and stain it darker before lining it and adding the correct ribbon closure. However, it was not difficult to take the utensils out with the handle as it is, so I may use it for Unohana-date or Hana-date Chabako until I have the chance to learn the more advanced procedure. (Note, the cord on my brocade shifuku in the picture is not tied as it would be when being presented.)