Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

June 10, 2012

Many words for tea - Review of "A Chanoyu Vocabulary"

The Way of Tea is going global and now a specialized tea dictionary has been published to help, and great are the mysteries it divulges. Did you know that the ashes in the brazier (used for boiling the tea water) must take twelve prescribed forms, neatly arranged, for example playfully depicting a mountain? Did you know that something as simple as the tea scoop, the elongated piece of bamboo used to scoop up powdered tea from the tea container and put it in the tea bowl, has fourteen named parts - just this simple instrument?

Starting with aburahishaku ("oil ladle", a warning not to move as inelegantly as an oil vendor scooping up oil when using the ladle or hishaku to add water to the kettle) to zungiri (a tea or flower container with a flat top), and everything in between, this is the answer to all your tea ceremony questions.

Senke area

The book also helps with the appreciation of Japanese art, as private collectors often focused on tea art and collected chawan (teabowls), chatsubo (jars for leaf tea), mizusashi (vessels for fresh water), kama (tea kettles) and koro (incense burners). These art objects now can be found in great quantities in museums in Japan. The book also explains types of ceramics used for the tea ceremony, as Shigaraki ware and Bizen ware.

In this single volume you can find out all about the abstruse differences between various types of tea containers as the cha-ire and the natsume, or the seasonal difference between the sunken hearth (ro) and the brazier (furo). And did you know that the shifuku, the cloth pouch for tea caddies, is often made from meibutsugire ("distinguished historical textiles")? If not, you now know where to find it!
Chanoyu Vocabulary, Practical Terns for the Way of Tea, Tankosha 2007. 1642 terms translated by the Urasenke International Association from a Japanese tea encyclopedia issued by the same publisher, Jitsuyo Chado-Yogo Jiten.

[By the way, the website JAANUS (Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System) also features many tea art terms, but does not go in as much detail as A Chanoyu Vocabulary]