The Making of Chashitsu, new door and window

 The construction work with the door is done, finally. I have lost count of how many attempts I have made a making a proper door. This time I really think I have got a well functioning system. The door is now sliding on a metal rail hanging from the wall. Actually the door is not even touching the floor. Which means there is one less thing that can give me problems. 

I did some other changes while I was at it. I have added a white birch pillar next to the door, and made an opening for another “window” just in front of temae-za. There is really no space behind the new window, but I was still able to fit a line of LED lights from IKEA. With the rice paper it gives a nice soft light in the room. My guest should now be able to actually see the host 😉
I contacted a store that sell shoji and asked for a price for making two shoji windows. That is I want to replace both the old and the new window with something that looks more professional. They wanted $720 for the windows. At the moment that is much more than I can afford, so I made my own window. For the second window I did not want to make railing above and under the window. Instead I have the window hanging like a picture, using fishing line 😉

The Making of Chashitsu, the door won

After a prolonged battle with sadoguchi I’m surrendering. This weekend I took down the entire wall that was hiding the door. I’m going to install a very different type of system for the door. Previously I have had a door that has been sliding like a proper shoji/fusuma. Now I will instead install a metal railing behind the wall from which the door will be hanging. The railing and hanging mechanism is shown on the one of the photos in this post.

Result of this weekends effort
Result of this weekends effort

Over the weekend I was able to get the railing in place, and also install a hanging door. Though I’m not entirely happy with the material I chose for the door so I plan on heading to the lumber shop again to get a bit thicker wood and redo it.

Mechanism for hanging the sadoguchi from the ceiling

While I was at it and had the wall down I was able to thread a IKEA led light behind the wall perpendicular to the one I removed. I have cut a small window in the wall. This window will be just in front of the host. My goal is to light up the host and the utensils a bit, so that the guests better can see what is happening. I’ll be prioritizing completing the wall and the door first. Then I will start looking at installing a window in front of the led light

Window for LED lights to make the host more visible

The never ending story


The door is stuck again… seems like I have to make another attempt at a door. I have lost count of how many times I have redone this. I guess it is time to take some drastic measures. I’m planning to remove the entire wall, so that I can access the area behind. Instead of a sliding door like I have to day I want to make it a hanging door. I have one of those in the mizuya, and it has given me absolutely no hassle, and that is what I want from my sado-guchi too.

I’m not looking forward to the work this will involve, not to mention that the room will probably not be usable while I’m working on it. The only advantage is that I might be able to make a window in the new wall to fix the lighting issue I was talking about in this post.It would ideally go on the wall perpendicular to the one that is coming down, but it is tempting to just hit two birds with this one wall.

Let there be light

After my first chakai in my Tea room, that has yet to receive a name, I was made aware that the room was a bit dark. This week I went to IKEA and bought led light. I attached a line of lights in the roof above tokonoma. It was quite a difference with these tiny lights. The images to the left is without the new light and the ones to the right are with the new lights. The images was taken with the exact same adjustments on the camera so the give a pretty accurate view of the difference.

A disadvantage with the placement is that it only brings light to the tokonoma. I need to find another solution to brighten temae-za a bit. I’m contemplating making another “window.” There is only about 7mm of space behind that wall, just enough to fit the leds. The question is will I be able to get them in there without taking the entire wall down?

Colage of light

My Tea Rooms

I have had a few different arrangements of Tea “rooms” or rather Tea spaces since I started learning the art. This post is an attempt to show the evolution of my Tea rooms. I hope you enjoy this trip trough my learning environments.

2001-2003, Nijo in my home-office
When I fist started with Tea I had just learned bits and pices from a friend. This was the Tea space I assembled using martial arts mats that I borrowed from the Aikido club. The Ro was a single electric cocker buried in sand do cover it up. As you can see from the image most of the utensils are also adaptations. Not knowing better I used a martial arts gi as outfit too. This image was taken for an article in a local newspaper.

Foto: Borgen, Ørn E (Aftenposten)

2003  – 2004, Basement Yojohan in Oslo
This room was built in the basement of my mothers house. I did a lot of work removing a brick wall that was in the way. To room was 4.5 mats, however the association did not halv any half mats so one mat was both the fumikomi tatami and part of the mizuya. The walls were a soft of shoji-fusuma hybride. They consisted of a frame with white paper in the back. Because of the size of the room I had dogu storage area behind the bamboo screen, and a long and narrow mizuya on the other side.

2004 – 2005, Midorikai

While I studied in Midorikai I wanted to be able to study at “home” too. This was my very informal Tea space. Just a single tatami, and a okiro. This is where I practised all the higher temae that I was learning during the weekends.


2005 – 2007, Nijo-Nakaita in Oslo
I lived for a while in my dads basement. I had in the past wanted to build a Tea room here, so I had spent a lot of time digging away the old floor and removing dirt to increase the height. When doing this I never got around to building a Tea room because I moved. In the mean time my dad had further increased the height and installed a new tiled floor.

room5In the corner of this room I built a two mat room with a separating board. The nakaita was a great addition to a two mat room. It both gave me the opportunity to lower the ro during winter, and also put some distance between the guest and the host.

This room had two white concrete walls (the walls of the room), and two fake mud walls. It had a proper nijiriguchi and a nice white sadoguchi. The fake mudwall was hinged so that the entire wall could be moved out of the way. That was great for students. They would be able to sit outside the Tea room an watch the lesson inside.

2007 – 2008, Nijo with nakaita, but no walls. 
Eventually I moved away from my dads basement and into an apparment of my own. I replicated the floor structure of the previous room. But since this Tea space would sit in the middle of my livingroom I decided to not have any walls. So I ended up with a raised platform holding two tatami and a middle board. Actually I also used this platform as a dining place. I had a rug that fit perfectly ontop of it. When roled out the Tea-space looked like a weirdly raised dining area.

This platform was raised much higher than the previous one. I wanted to use the space underneath for dogu storage. I covered up the edge with cloth. Storing dogu under the room like this is great. However, I discovered that I would never bother to remove the tatami and the floorboard to access the dogu. I would always just crawl under to find the right box.

Nijo nakaita
Nijo nakaita
Tea-space in the livingroom
Tea-space in the livingroom

2011 – 2012, Nijo in the basement
When moving into a new house with my wife I had grand plans for a Tea room in the upstairs living-room  However I was never able to do that, and eventually all the dogu was moved down to the basement and a simple Tea space was established. To the left of the image all the boxes of utensils were stored.

Nijo in the basement
Nijo in the basement

2013, Yojohan with a small tokonoma and a nijo mizuya/entrance.
One day in february 2013 I found a store that could get me tatami of the proper size. From that sprang plans of a extensive upgrade to the basement Tea space. I’m almost done with the room, but some small details are still missing.

Yojohan in the basement
Yojohan in the basement

The Making Of Chashitsu, the journey

I have finally reached the end of my The Making Of Chashitsu series. It is time to review the path the room has taken from it’s beginning as a storage room. All posts in the series is available from this link.
The room from 2010 to 2011, storage room
The room from 2010 to 2011, storage room
The room from 2011 to 2012, nijo with mizu-ya and dogu storage
The room from 2011 to 2012, nijo with mizu-ya and dogu storage
2013, Yojo-han
2013, Yojo-han

The Making Of Chashitsu, the movie

As have been covered in this blog in a series of posts I have been building a Tea room this spring. I have documented it with frequent blogposts and images. I have also taken timelaps of the building process. This is the end result. See a Tea-room being build in matter of seconds.

The Making of Chashitsu, skills and tools

I was asked what I knew and what resources I used to build my Tea room. I actually thought that was a very good topic for a blogpost. So here we go.

I stayed one year in Midorikai and had the pleasure of seeing a lot of different Tea rooms. So I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted the room to look like. I refereed to a very nice book to confirm my Tea-room layout. It is a great book so I have included a image of the cover. It is probably 10x as good if you can read Japanese, but even just looking at the images provided me with valuable aid.
The room I was using forced some constraints on me. For instance there is no way I could make two entrances, or make the tokonoma full size. So there I had to improvize a bit.
Design book

To figure out exactly how much space I had available and how to distribute pillars and tatami I used Live Interior 3D. This is a software for Mac that is very easy to use and create great floor plans. It even made a movie of my design. I posted the movie in a earlier post. I sent the floor plans and the movie  to the Tea teachers I know asking for feedback. They gave me good advice on things that I had forgot, or improvements that I should consider.  After a few iterations I had a final design.

Then to the woodwork. I’m not a carpenter. However, neither am I the least handy person I know. My dad loves building and renovating. He built our first home from scratch and renovated a house from 1935 as our next home. So this has exposed me to a certain amount of carpentry, but mostly as the assistant fetching tools and wood. Also I might note that this is not my first Tea-room. I’m going to make a image post about the evolution of my Tea spaces later. Sufficient to say I have tried and only partially succeeded in making a room based on shoji walls, but I had previously made fake mud-walls successfully.

From my experience with the different rooms I have made Tea rooms can be a fairly simple structure. Basically you need a frame around the tatami and some walls. The walls can be as simple as a painted sheet of wood, or as complex as a real mud wall or fusuma. I believe that with some experience from renovating, making a garden fence or some such thing that most people should be able to make a decent room. The main problem with making a room I guess is that unless you have seen a lot of Tea rooms you need a few iterations to get it the way you wanted. Some one once told me that if you are building your own home you need to to it five times to get it perfect, I guess Tea-rooms are the same in this regard.

The most challenging things for me was:

  • Making a platform for the entire room to rest on. It has to be perfectly even and stable. The main purpose of this was to allow a sunken ro, but also to reduce the height of the room.
  • Hiding the fact that I had cheated. I want the room to appear authentic as much as possible. That is no visible torx, no apparent modern materials and so on. My room is far from perfect in this regards, but there is very few obvious cheats visible.
  • The level of details involved in cutting every piece of wood the exact right size. I got some small gaps that should not be there because I failed in this.
  • Making shoji.
  • Trying to get everything as “correct” as possible from a Tea perspective. I very much want to avoid to having to settle for workarounds. Again that was impossible for some things like the doors and tokonoma.

Over the years I have accumulated a decent selection of carpentry tools that helped me a great deal while making this Tea room. I also used the Tea-room as excuse to buy some new ones 😉  This is a list an the main tool and the what I used them for:

  • Electric drill, everything in my room is fasten with torx screws. So this has been a absolute must have tool for me.
  • Jigsaw for cutting the boards I used as walls
  • Miter Saw with Laser Marker, for cutting all the planks and pillars. I could have substituted this one for a handsaw and about a million calories. I would still be working on the floor if I had not had this.
  • Sanding machine, all pieces of visible wood was given a quick sanding with this machine. Again something that you could do without if your willing to put in the extra effort and do it by hand.
  • A machine to make grooves in pilars. Sorry could not figure out what it is called in English. All my walls slide into groves to make the transition between walls and pillars as smooth as possible. This is not strictly necessary. The only place you really need it if for the doors. They need to go into grooves if you do not want to cheat and use a modern solution with wheels or something suspended from the roof.
The main lessons learned from building my room is:
  • Thin plaster walls are easy to work with and cheap to buy. However, if I could do it over again I would have made it all with the 21mm wood sheets instead. The plaster bends slightly and will not support any weight if you touch them.
  • Make the mizuya shelves very deep. I got only 20cm, but 27cm would have been way better.
  • Lighting the room by using a shoji window with spotlight behind works very vell. But it would have been a good idea to have more than one window. With only one window spots can become very dark when someone or something is blocking the only window.

The Making of Chashitsu, dogu and tatami

Today was a big day. Both the tatamiand the dogu from Zuiun arrived. The tatami looks and feels perfect, and has the unmistakable smell of new tatami. When placing them out I noticed that I have some small irregularities in the dimension of the room. Fortunately I have made it too big and not to small. Nothing that a small piece of wood will not hide. The tatami is super heavy. Each full mat is 37kg. It was nice to see that the measurement for both the regular ro placement and the gyakugatte placement was done correctly. I was a bit nervous about that.

The dogu from Zuiun finally arrived. For r2some reason the second box used 13 days from Osaka to Oslo while the first only 3 days. They were sent the same day as part of the same shipment  go figure. Then the second box got stuc a few extra days in the Norwegian custom because of a missing shipping manifest. I sent them the Japanese order confirmation and a copy of my bank statement, but that was not good enough. The needed to have the manifest translated too. Delaying the custom clearance a few extra days. I do not understand this, I have had many many shippments of dogu and never had trouble with customs. When I finally got the package today it was clearly marked as “Tea Ceremony Utensils” and had a value stated in Yen. Anyway, now I got the dogu and I’m really happy about that.  I had done a few mistakes when I orderes. Since I can not read the catalouge, but is just looking at the images I have apparently ordered chabako chawans instead of regular sized 😛
It was a very nice feeling to enjoy koicha using brand new tatami, chawan and chaire. Now the room is all but complete. I just need to finish up some minor details and get hold of the blue and white paper that is suppose to go on the bottom part of the wall. Not to mention figuring out what to do about that door that is super hard to open and close.

The Making of Chashitsu, sadoguchi II

I removed the old sadoguchi because xit was a bit too flimsy, and got stuck occasionally. Over the weekend I  have installed a new one. The first one was put in place before the wall was added. And therefore could be in one piece. The new one could not be in one piece as it would not fit into the opening. So I had to make it into two pieces and glue it together. If you look carefully you can see the seam in the image on the right side.

I was quite happy that I was able to glue it together as this was a point of uncertainty. Now I have encountered another problem. The new wood is to heavy and easily gets stuck too. While standing the door can “easily” be slides back and forth using the handle. However, when your in seiza you have significantly less strength.
I’m not certain what to do. Is there a way I can reduce the friction between the door and the floor section? One problem is that now that the door is glued I cant get it out again with out ruining it. And I can’t access the place where the door slid into, even if I could remove the door.
This has not been a good Tea-room construction weekend. Lot of wasted effort 🙁 Need to think about what to do next. Should I try to wax the tracks? Find some lighter wood and make yet another door?