Halloween Chakai

On October 31st, 2018, An open house Halloween chakai was held at my home. Guests could drop in from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30. It was a blast! I had not hosted such an event for over twenty years. Some day I will tell the tale of that event. I had planned this occasion and had fun figuring out how to present it. A Tea for ghosts and goblins! Here are photos to show what it was like…

A ‘Ghost Woman Noh mask greeted the guests in the waiting room, along with 4 wooden plaques stating that yearly memorial services had been performed by a Buddhist Priest. The sign in book was from Harry Potter’s book of monsters…from my own collection. The main scroll was an Owl painted by Getto Houzan. A ‘Demon Hagi’ bowl made by Deishi Shibuya had been broken by the Postal service in transit from Japan. The other main bowl had suffered the same fate. It was a black Seto-guro bowl that I named ‘kumo’ spider. The chashaku was named dark night’Kuro-Yo’. The Mizusashi fresh water container was a basket weave pottery design. My Kekkai was the pumpkin and leaves. I encourage you to adapt Tea to fit he holidayd that you enjoy.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Navajo Tea Demonstration

On March 26th, at the White Horse High School located on the Navajo Reservation on the boarder of Southern Utah and Arizona, a demonstration of The Way of Tea was held for the student scholars who had made Raku bowls in the recent past. The Division of Arts and Museums made this possible, and are owed much thanks for their efforts toward the accomplishment of this project.

The students were very respectful, curious, intelligent, and very well behaved. It was an honor to serve them and I was quite impressed with their courteous,and polite manners. We held the demonstration in the Home Ec. room of the school. Georgiana Simpson was the art teacher who should also be thanked for her gracious help in this event. We featured three objects that were of Native American origin in order to show our respect and appreciation to them. The incense container was a very small basket made by the To’hono Od’ahm Tribe. The Tea container was a small jar of earthen ware made by Anna Sandia of the Jemez Tribe. The principle sweet tray was made of bent wood bark by one of the northern tribes of Alaska. We featured a red Raku bowl in order to share the artistic creativity that they infused in their own Raku ware. A fan with the Kanji writing of ‘Sei-Jaku- (Tranquility) was flanked by a chabana flower arrangement, and the incense box. The sweets were Daifuku mochi. Here are the photos. My camera’s batteries wore out during the chakai so I have had to augment with more recent photos of the objects used.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

The Foundation Stones of the Way of Tea

Referring to the post written by O Iemoto Zabosai Sen Soshitsu (Grand Tea Master of Urasenke), I relate the story of Rikyu and a Questioner. This article is written for beginners who might not be aware of these important rules that all practitioners and students of Cha do strive to follow.

Sen no Rikyu was once asked a question by one of his disciples about what the way of Tea truly entails. Rikyu thought a bit and stated these seven rules that every person of Tea should follow.

1. Make a satisfying bowl of Tea

2.Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently

3.Provide a sense of coolness in Summer, and warmth in the Winter

4.Arrange the flowers as though they were in the field

5.Be ready ahead of time

6.Be prepared in case it should rain

7.Act with utmost consideration towards your guests

The questioner was vexed by Rikyu’s list of rules stating that these were simple matters that anyone could handle. Rikyu replied that he would become the disciple of the person who could cary them out with out fail.

Simple does not equal easy. Even though these principles are concerned with activities of everyday life, it takes great cultivation and much practice. In a sense the Way of Tea is well described as the art of living. In today’s modern age it seems even more difficult to concentrate on what these rules point toward, but the enhancement and enrichment of ones life is increased if one tries, and tries, and tries again. I hope that you will go to the Urasenke official website to read “The Spirit of Chado” article. It is a better article than this one and we can learn from the O Iemoto’s words himself. Copying these words and occasionally reading them while in practice or just before we host a Tea event is always a good idea.

There is a post that was written about the Seven Artistic Principles of Zen on this website that should also be reviewed.

The ‘Four Princples of Cha no Yu- Wa (Harmony), Ke (Respect), Sei (Purity…and cleanliness), and Jyaku (Tranquility) are fundamental concepts and words of wisdom that every student of Tea should know by heart.

Wabi: A quality of austere and serene beauty expressing a mood of spiritual solitude. Simplicity, resigned loneliness, quietude, subdued, transience, freshness, and understated elegance are also part of this definition. Examples of ‘Wabi’ are as follows, A Fresh cut bamboo lid rest, a chakin wiping cloth, cold water, steam from a simmering kettle, a newly fallen autumn leaf, a single flower with one or two leaves in a tube of old bamboo hung in the tokonoma and spritzed with water, a well soaked black or red raku tea bowl, Fresh water sprinkled on the old stepping stones of the garden path, the scent of sandalwood, Freshly glued wainscoting paper on a rough clay and straw wall, new- light green tatami mats, wet bizen ware water container, a new bamboo ladle, the green shoots of grass pushing up under winter’s last melting snows. There are countless essays and books written to describe this word.

Sabi: The quality of chill, lean, withered, imperfection, patina, flawed beauty, visible repairs, desolate, worn- but not dirty or soiled, aged, delicate, vulnerable, preserved, “mono no aware” (the awareness of the pathos of things), empathy. Examples are an old scroll with yellowed paper- the fabric surrounding the mounting is slightly faded and thin; an old Tea bowl that has been chipped and lovingly repaired with brown or black lacquer; the waddle and dob of the walls of the Tea room that show the shadow of the beams underneath; an ancient garden lantern covered in green moss; smoked bamboo eaves holding up the ceiling, The Moon partly covered in cloud, Negoro lacquer ware where the black lacquer shows underneath the dark red, an old dish or incense box made of pottery that shows every crack in the glaze; a shrike perched on a dead rice stock in a vacant late Autumn field, ice formed in the water basin, bleached wood on the front gate; and the hand of an ancient poet’s writing mounted on an old card with a crushed, dull, pewter colored, Mica paper edging.

“Ichi-go Ichi-e” a concept championed by Sen no Rikyu and elaborated on by Ii Naosuke Tairo challenges us to not waste this one opportunity between host and guest. The Tea gathering should be approached by both host and guest as a once in a life time moment where the chance of learning, enjoying, listening, being aware of, communicating, understanding, becoming one with, and being very grateful for this experience is reached for, shared, and remembered.

Do (the way that we have chosen to commit to), Gaku (Constant study of the way), and Jitsu (the steady practice through one’s life of the way).

Each one of these ‘foundation stones’ should take up an entire posting and I shall strive to add them at a later date. I know that this is a lot to take in, but it is worth stating them now and probing the details of these important issues in the future.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Chakai in the Sky

On October 7th 2017 I had the opportunity to serve a simple Tea at “Island in the Sky” district of Canyonlands National Park located in Southern Utah. It was a gathering of only one guest and myself. It was unique in that the kakejiku scroll was the view before us and the tokonoma alcove was quite immense. It took 15 million years for nature to create the ‘scroll’ and the span that was shown in the rocks that were exposed went back 300 million years into the past. Looking down on the ‘White Rim over-look’ one could see the layers of time and the spectacular monuments that had been made by erosion. It was a sunny day that was clear and brisk to enjoy tea.

Ryaku-bon Temae seemed to suit the occasion and the sweets were small ‘Jaw breakers’ candies nestled inside of a metal hip flask. The Chawan was a Gohon Mishima style bowl that had very similar colors to the red rock that we were seated on. The Chaki tea container was a hand made piece by a tribal member of the Hopi Nation. His name is Johnny Martin whose name is also “Ma-kai-Ya”. The lid was woven by hand. The Tea scoop was a gift of Kishimoto Sokei Sensei and made of black persimmon. Its poetic name is “Looking Forward”. The ‘scroll was looking into the deep past, Tea was happening now, and we both look forward to enjoying the future in Tea. The Kensui bowl was a gift from Sauki Sensei. It is a Chrysanthemum bowl made of brass. The Fukusa purifying cloth was made from a fresh cowboy bandanna scarf. The blanket set out was an old woolen Shepard’s blanket that had been made into a poncho. The furo is an old Korean pickling pot for Kim-chi and the Tetsu-bin Kettle is an old piece with a small Fu-Dog knob and a cracked lid that lets the steam out. It was never quite vertical but then who is. The Ita board was a slice of pine.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Tanabata Star Festival Tea Gathering

Sometimes Tea people plan for a gathering months- maybe years in advance. This was one of those times. I had been acquiring utensils and other things for years; each time thinking “Some day I will host a Tanabata gathering”. Circumstances led to this event happening sooner than I thought. The homestead where my Mother lived was being prepared for eventual sale since she was too old to live alone anymore. I made the decision to host a tea gathering on her patio next to her spacious back yard. I had amassed many things to make this event unique. The work to make this happen became weeks of preparation. Cleaning the garden clearing off the patio of the various ‘nick-nacks’ emptying the kitchen of the ‘kitsch’ and emptying the bathroom of everything was a major set of chores. Bringing up the various items needed for Tea was also a challenge full of sweat and toil. July is a hellish month in Utah with daytime temperatures reaching 103 F’ in the shade. July 7th was a work day so I held it on the 8th (Saturday) instead. I have five people to thank for their help above and beyond the call of duty. Rachel and her Mother, Laura McCullough, and Charles Galway are exemplary people whose contributions made this a very special occasion. Charles brought ‘misters’ that made clouds of fine spray float through the air to cool the guests. Rachel helped with her culinary talents, her Mother – and Charles helped get the equipment up to the house, and Laura helped to serve. We served 23 guests in four separate groups. Two groups met at different times earlier in the day and two met from late afternoon to evening.

The guests arrived at my our front yard to view the touch of a Japanese garden that was designed decades before. They made their way to the wooden back yard gate to enter an area with an umbrella and chairs. A tall bamboo plant decked with ornaments of paper greeted them. A basket with blank tanzaku cards was at hand for them to write their wishes on and to hang on the bamboo. A sign asked them to wait to be escorted to Tea. The misters sprayed delicate clouds of water to cool the guests from above next to the eves of the patio. Then Laura would come to escort them to the area to enter. A large red umbrthen they entered the ‘room’.

a Tea room was made using lengthy reed blinds on all sides to form walls that would let in a breeze. Purple felt covered the tumbling mat floor, with six table and chair sets where the guests would be seated were flanked by a Star Map on the opposite wall. Two small tables supported a bowl of salt that held a Meteorite from China, and a pad of white paper with the incense box in carved lacquer in the shape of a star. This style of Tea is called ‘Ryu Rei’ and is used for those who might not be able to sit on tatami mats without discomfort. The Ryu-Rei table was built for the 2002 Winter Olympics Tea Demonstrations and finally found some use at this event. Green felt covered its surface with adjacent tables needed to serve tea.

After the guests were seated, I came out and bowed to welcome them. Then I sat and explained the Tanabata festival, talked about the Star Map, and other objects and answered any questions. The Star map had a saying written by Robert Gillespie who is a Senior Astronomer for Clark Planetarium. On the copy of a Star map from 1661 he had written “We are all made from the dust of Stars”.

After this we served a light meal of summer foods with a bowl of rice that had a sprinkled ‘bridge’ of poppy seeds on top. Then came small moist cool towels and glasses of water. When all the guests were through we gently took everything away, asked them to wait in the ‘Machiai’ and made the room ready for Tea.

Each ‘seki’ (group gathering) had its own qualities, set backs, lessons, and delights. Before the 9 a.m. seki it was discovered that the new glass fresh water container leaked from a hairline crack. Water had soaked the whole table so we rushed back to my apartment to fetch a smaller crystal Mizusashi that was substituted. This threw me off of my game and the temae was a disaster. The ladle slipped out of my hand and sailed across to land on the floor between me and the first guest. Ah well…not much to do but go wash it off and continue.

The second seki was hotter and thank Gods for the misters. The big red umbrella had the local hummingbirds excited but they didn’t seem to know about the feeder meant for them that was nearby.

The third seki had guests who were unfamiliar with what ‘wagashi’ sweets were and poked at the bean paste with their picks. Some ate the food, some did not. It is hard to tell whether our menu was correct or not to their liking. I must confess that only five guests had any experience with tea in any way. The rest were encountering Cha no Yu for the first time. I usually tailor the gatherings for this. If I only hosted Tea for those initiated in its practices then I would not be hosting Teas at all. So I take it as it comes. Sadler Sensei brought a beautiful flower arrangement in a tall glass vase that I proudly placed next to the map.

The evening seki was very special…and very dramatic! Clouds had rolled in while the 9 p.m. guests were seating themselves. Winds buffeted the screens and made them bellow. An oil lamp was knocked over and poor Laura- who was a guest- had to hold back the screens from knocking her table over. It finally calmed down and Usucha was made by candle light. It was magical! It had been a clear night on the 7th so the two Star crossed lovers had already met and we did not worry about the clouds.

There seems to be five parts to Nodate Tea gatherings. The bringing together of things, the shipping things to the site and setting up, cooking etc, then the actual serving of Tea, then then taking everything down and shipping it back home, then the storing it all away. i am tired and there is still much to do; but there were a few moments where it was magical and surreal. i live for those moments.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Chakai- March 12th, 2017

A Tea Gathering was held for good friends who had been helpful and supportive throughout the last year. This was a way to thank them for all that they had done on my behalf. Much planning went into this event. It was going to have a Vegan meal served, special items would be presented for them to examine, and it was held at a time that they could all arrive…3:30p.m. March 12th is after the Hina Dolls Festival and before the Vernal Equinox. I was watching the Thundercloud Plum tree in the front yard in hopes that it would not bloom too early. If it had then I would not be able to present the scroll in the waiting room. It also happened that this was going to be a night of the full Moon– and Day Light Savings time. We were to meet at what I thought would be late afternoon to dusk. But after barely setting my clocks forward at the last minute, it made the Chakai much earlier. The five guests were greeted after they arrived and washed their hands at the water basin. Then they filed in to find their seats. The scroll in the Machiai (waiting room) was a reproduction of one painted by Sotatsu (1600’s). The main scroll was “Setsu-Gekka” (Snow-Moon-Flower) written by the Calligrapher Toki Koka. During this month sets of three things are featured and I did my best to include this aspect. I greeted them all and thanked them for coming. Next came Shozumi- the first laying of the charcoal. This time I was smart enough to install my window mounted air conditioner to abate the heat given off by all burners fired on the stove. The kitchen was cool and refreshing. Shozumi was done with a Marujoku-dana (Tea shelf) and I used an ‘office letter basket’ that I found at a shop. Best Sumi-tori basket ever! The incense box (kogo) was a small salt cellar that was used for other ritual purposes and was known to one of the guests. It had been lovingly restored from damage and was made of creamy honey onyx. I had sifted all of the ash in the furo to see if that would help keep the embers lit- it worked!

Next came the meal. Cooking a Vegan meal was a challenge for me since cooking is something that I need to practice. Daniel Cantu gave me lots of ideas and donated a green coconut vegetable curry to go with the Nimono course. It was delicious! I need to take lessons from him. He has a website that should be visited and explored. The Mukozuke dish had three lobes on it and Tofu nestled inside on a cabbage leaf with wakame seaweed and ginger pickles. Umeboshi pickle lay on the other side. Straw mushrooms and Mochi were in the Miso soup. The Nimono course was wheat meat triangles with Kabocha Pumpkin and Cilantro sprigs with a Lemon twist.
The Hassun was served on a silver tray. Two Olives each and fried Lotus root served with Champagne and Sparkling Cider. Then came Pickles and hot water. I coached them as we went through its use. Then came the brake (nakadachi) while I changed the room from scroll to flowers, checked the fired, swept the room, rearranged their cushions, and made ready for Usucha.

The guests re-entered after washing their hands to find only a single yellow Tulip and Pussy willows in a green Kake-hanaire. I served homemade ‘Omogashi’ in the form of Peach buds with a ‘sun shaft’ of candied Citrus peel. Usucha went somewhat smoothly. The kettle actually simmered with the sound of ‘Wind in the Pines’! (That was a sound that I had not heard in a long time at a Chakai due to my efforts and learning curve of heating water.) I served 9 bowls of usucha with three bowls featured in a famous ranking of three; “Ichi-Raku, Ni Hagi, San-Garatsu”. Four guests had two bowls of tea each! Good sign! I used an Ohi raku tea bowl that I favored, a Hagi Tea bowl with five finger prints left by the maker, and a simple Karatsu bowl with mountain and Pine motif. A tri-lobed Futaoki lid rest was used. The Natsume was ‘Haru-gusa'(spring grasses) and the Chashaku was made from Persian Almond. It is the very first tree to flower in this valley and is usually found with snow on its petaled branches. It’s poetic name is “Hatsu-Hana” (First flower- since it literally is the first one in this valley during late Winter/ early Spring) My guests enjoyed themselves and after we finished, they sauntered away as I waved them off. Then I made myself a bowl of Tea. Things are getting better.

Thanks to my honored Guests– Sandro Larson, Karen Larson, Randy (Dook Larson, Laura McCullough, and Charles Galway for coming!

The making of fresh Shiro-an (white sweet bean paste) for the Chakai.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Tea Bowl Series—Oribe

Futura Oribe, also known as Futura Shigenari, was a Daimyo war lord who lived from 1544 to July 6th, 1615 in Japan. He was a contemporary with the Tea Master Sen no Rikyu. He studied under him and was one of Rikyu’s seven exulted disciples. He was well educated, smart, and had an excellent sense of taste. Having been given one of Rikyu’s hand carved Tea Scoops before Rikyu committed ritual suicide, Oribe called it ‘Tears’ and had a special bamboo tube made with a small window to view it while he venerated it.

Oribe was also an artist. Having seen Mino ware and observing a green copper glaze developed by the Chinese but rarely used, he set to work on developing a style of ceramic that was bold and innovative. His irregular forms and alien designs were the stuff of shock and awe in the stately quiet world of Tea. Under Rikyu’s advice and guidance, his new style of colors and patterns were so modern that even today one finds them to be cutting edge and worth studying. His pieces would fit well in any mid-century modern living room. He was the ‘Picasso’ of his time and he brought the Japanese aesthetic to new heights of expression. At the time he was producing, the Portuguese had landed and the Dutch were trading at the port of Sakai. Speculation of his radical designs lead to the theory that he borrowed patterns from fabrics and objects brought by these foreigners to this far off set of Islands. New influences were having an effect. Gone were the symmetrically round forms of the tea bowl and the clean edges found on dishes to serve food. He warped and dented them; smacked and molded the clay to fit his mind set.

There are basically four types of Oribe ware; Green covering the whole piece, Green with White slip and iron oxide designs, a pale red with the same glaze and marks, and black. He had such an affect on his generation that he started his own school of Tea. His work is admired by many and a piece showing his style of work is worth having. The green that he used hints at the grasses poking through the snow waiting for Spring; his black is hypnotic. His pale red slips are soothing and his designs are arresting to the eye. I have fondness for his works.

He died earlier in life. He was asked to commit suicide by the reigning Tokugawa shogun of the time. Here are examples of his works and his style perpetuated by later artists working under his influence.


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Tea Bowl Series—Kiseto

< 'Seto' is the name of one of the Six ancient Kilns of Japanese history. Based in Owari Province (now know as Aichi), there are legends that Kato Shirozaemon Kagemasa studied high firing techniques while traveling in China, and brought these teachings back to the Seto area in 1223 a.d. To make a long story short, (there is plenty to study on line)- the pottery of this region became so popular that and widespread that the word 'Seto' became synonymous for ceramics made in Japan. Kiseto is the term used for the yellow type of this ceramic. This color and style was developed in the 1600's- Momoyama period. Porcelain clay is thrown, bisque fired, glazed, then fired again to 2,300 degrees F'. The pieces have a warm buttery rich color to them as they leave the kiln. A mat finish is found on pieces that were fired to a lower temperature (under fired). The pieces that were fired to the appropriate degree are shinier. Objects look as if they have been carved from blocks of creamy yellow butter by Tibetan Monks. Rich green glaze can blush in places or drip down the sides. Tea people love this and look for these cascades of green pooling at the bottom of the bowl. Sometimes the glaze does not 'fit' the bowl and small interlacing cracks develop adding even more interest. Late at night if the house is very quiet and there is a bowl or other object at hand, one can be lucky enough to hear a tiny 'ping' noise as a new crack fractures into the latticework of the glaze. This happens due to a change in air pressure, or a slight drop in temperature. Kiseto bowls are soft to the touch and a pleasure to hold. Sen no Rikyu favored such a bowl.

It has a quiet beauty and elegance that words fall short in describing. There is a bewitching quality about Kiseto that makes it a classic in any collection of Tea utensils. Great museums throughout the world have also amassed examples of this beautiful ceramic style to display in their glass cases. It is still possible to buy good Kiseto ware…I better start saving; this is going to hurt my wallet.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Tea Bowl Series—Amamori

August and September is the time of year that poets and Tea people love. Wabi style Tea comes into vogue and the Moon lends itself to the quiet mood that can be found in the Tea room. Even though the garden may be a riot of Fall colors, people feel nostalgic for saying goodbye to the Furo. Eventually the portable brazier will be put away. At this time special utensils are brought forth to grace the gatherings. Autumn showers and gray days lends themselves to the spirit of ‘Sabi-shi’ (the loneliness and sadness that comes with age and use. Grasses start to wither, and there is a nip in the air; a perfect time to enjoy a bowl of tea. At this time it is customary to bring out bowls and other items that might have been lovingly repaired with gold, red or brown lacquer. Other bowls hide a mystery in their glaze. They are called ‘Amamori’ which means water that has leaked from the roof onto the waddle and dob walls of a traditional Japanese house.The water stains the mud and changes its color. It is the secret of these bowls to possess the same quality. These bowls are prized for their ability to changes color, texture, and hue after soaking in a very warm bath for a few hours. It is also customary to use them in the Spring and early Summer during the rainy season. If one has the time and preparedness to soak bowls before the guests arrive, then the tea served in them will retain its heat. Such bowls are a great surprise for they can look very different from when they were dry. Care should be taken to use very pure water with a towel lined bucket for soaking. The towel should have been boiled and dried first to take out any scents given by detergents. They should be gradually warmed so that they do not suffer or brake from thermal shock. These types of bowls are usually low fired and have a tendency to hold on to odors. Only Tea should be drunk out of them.

Many bowls of this nature are quite famous for their cloudy face changing character. The color of the glaze is altered by very small cracks from which water can seep in. Hagi bowls, Ido bowls, and some Raku bowls can change color from this process. Every bowl used for Tea deserves a good bath every now and again. Upon soaking some of my bowls I was delightfully shocked to discover that I had three such ‘Amamori’ bowls. After use, it is cleaned with nothing but hot water and a chakin cloth. Then it is put in a place safe from people, cats, small children, dogs, etc. at room temperature. It must dry for three or four days- maybe longer. It must return to its original color before being stored away in its box. Otherwise it will get moldy and start to smell. These bowls need a bit of extra care but are well worth it. They hide their true personality; only revealing it to those who take the time and care for them with respect.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized

Tea Bowl Series— Ido

The words “Ido-Jawan’ makes those who have practiced The Way of Tea for a few years- smile and reminisce. Of all of the ceramic wares used by Tea people, Ido bowls are considered the essence of the Wabi spirit. A good Ido bowl shows the layers of time that accumulate around it- Sabi. The cracks, chips and brown lacquer repairs show that it has seen some things, and has endured much. There are three types of Ido: “O-Ido” (Large bowls), ‘Ko-Ido” smaller bowls), and “Ao-Ido” (greenish blue oxidized glaze different from the locquat yellow/ beige of the others). One of Japan’s great National Treasures is “Kizaemon”. It is housed at Daitoku ji Temple in Kyoto Japan. You can see it- if you have $5,000, are able to look with your eyes not your hands, and stay behind a barrier railing. The bowl is brought out with slow solemnity and concentration. It is contained in a series of nested boxes that are treasures in their own rite. Each wooden box has been signed with comments by leading national figures from Japanese history. When the final box is opened, one sees cotton padding generously holding the bowl in place. it is covered by a dark purple silk cloth. It is unwrapped and shown on the tatami matting. After viewing, it is slowly and carefully put back in its protective nest and solemnly taken back to its vault. If the Temple of Daitoku ji were to burn down (heaven forbid), instructions have been given that this bowl is to be saved first among everything else. For its sale price could easily have the entire temple complex rebuilt with plenty left over. Simply put, Kizaemon has no equal; it stands alone as an example in clay and glaze of the spirit of Tea.

Ido bowls have a distinctive shape. There is a small cup-like depression at the bottom called ‘the well’. They usually have five small unglazed circles on the inside of the bowl where small spheres of clay helped to stack the bowls for economy of space when being fired. The foot is usually speckled with glaze drops. The color is yellowish to creamy beige and blueish to green. Sometimes the glaze runs or crawls creating ‘imperfections’. The shape is slap-dash and quick. These were originally made as utilitarian food bowls. Scorch marks and mis-happen shapes are not uncommon. There is a freedom from pretense and affectation. They were not made for the Royal Court; they were made for everyday use. They served workers.

Ido bowls were first made in Southern Korea; and through the admiration of Tea Masters such as Sen no Rikyu, found their way to be prized as symbols of great trust and value. Muromachhi period warlords coveted these bowls and gave them only to vassals who proved their loyalty. They were used in the drinking of a communal bowl of thick tea called Koicha. At that time it was a new thing to share a bowl of tea with others and it fostered a spirit of brotherhood among the Samurai of that period. These bowls also promoted a quiet attitude and a level of sophisticated taste that is unmatched. To own an Ido bowl is a very special responsibility. To drink tea from an Ido bowl is a rare opportunity. To see one of the few Ido bowls from the Muromachi period is the chance of a life time. Nothing says ‘Tea bowl’ like ‘Ido’.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
Posted in Uncategorized