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


Saturday I visited a friend to enjoy Tea. He probably has the only Tea-Hut in Norway. In this post I’ll try to convey to you what a wonderful oasis he has created in the middle of town.
The tea house is located in the garden of a town house. The entire property is enclosed by a wall. The section near the tea-house is yellow-ish with a roof tile lining the top. It looks and feels like a proper japanese wall. As you come into the garden you can just glimpse the Koshikake trough the trees. A path of flat rocks laid into the ground lead you past the waiting area and through a gate to the inner garden. The Tea hut is placed next to a small pond in which carps are swimming happily. You are greeted by the sound of running water from a small artificial waterfall. A small wooden bridge leads from out to the nijiriguchi
The inside space is two mats, with kabe-doko, that is the scroll is hanged on the wall with no alcove. There is no electric lighting in the hut. The light all comes from one big round window, and a section of shoji facing towards the pond. Next to temae-za there is a small cabinet in which utensils are placed. The host can easily open the cabinet and reach inside to bring in the utensils. 
The hut does not have a interior roof, but the structure carrying the straw roof is visible from inside. This gives the hut both a rustic feeling and a greater height under the roof. It is a great feeling to sit in this small enclosed space, listening to the water outside. 

He build most of the hut himself. He learned how to do joinery, make shoji and such. The only part of the house he got professional help with was the roof. But even there he was working alongside the professional, and when the professional had to return to Denmark he finished the roof him self.


The hut was built in 1993. The Japanese ambassador to Norway, Nonoyama, gave the hut it’s name in 1994; Ungetsu-an. The meaning of the name is the hut of cloud and moon. When walking the roji the surrounding wall combined with a myriad of trees and bushes remove all traces of the surrounding city. From the roji, all you can see of the outside world is the clouds.


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, 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?


The Making of Chashitsu, Day 22 – First Tea

Today I enjoyed a bowl of Usucha in my new Tea-room. It was a nice feeling to be able to use the room after all that effort. It will be even better as soon as the new tatami arrives.

All the light for the room comes from two windows lit by spotlights. The windows behind me is by far the largest, and the main light source. The room is evenly lit by a soft and comfortable light. It could have been a little bit brighter. I’ll need to get another spot to achieve that. The image is taken with out flash and with only the light from the windows (0.8 sec at f 4.0 and ISO 500).

The first bowl of Usucha in the new room

This was also the first time I used the electric ro. It is brand new and have never been used before, even though I have had it for several years. It gave a very low heat output even when I set it to 600W. Wonder what is wrong. There is a output wheel and a little stick next to it. I have no idea what that does. Can anyone translate the instructions?

Please help me with translation!

The Making of Chashitsu, Day 21

 q2After having moved the window on Friday I started painting the last wall segment on Saturday. After two layers of paint and sand I could mount the sliders for the actual window. However I had done some foolish mistakes in calculating the size, so the window did not fit. I had to disassemble it and make a second attempt. I’m not totally satisfied with the way it turned out, but it will do for now.
While waiting for the paint to dry I had time to make finish the water disposal area in mizu-ya. I had planned to have the bamboo cover go from wall to wall, but only be 20 cm deep. For several reasons it was more practical to have it 43 cm deep and not as wide as planned. The image shows the final result. Both the bamboo cover and the wood on the sides can easily be removed to empty the waste water container below.
I also had time to clean up the room. All the left over wood has been removed to the garage. I have dusted an vacuumed the room, and I’m looking forward to having some Tea in it tomorrow.

There are still some things to do, but it has the feel of being nearly finished. In the Tea room I need to complete the window and make a cover for the ro. Beside that there is not much q1more I can do before I get some supplies. I need the blue and white paper that will cover the bottom part of the walls. Furthermore I need the hooks for the scroll and flowers. And not to mention, I only have to very old tatami that are the wrong size, In the mizuya I need to get the measurements for the shelf, and than build it. Hopefully I’ll get some measurements on the 17th. I also need to paint the mizu-ya door and figure out what to do about the space between the right most piece of wood and the wall. The space is barely visible in the image above, but it is very visible when you move about the mizu-ya.

As long as I get the tatami and the mizu-ya shelves the rest is details.


The Making of Chashitsu, Day 20

I have had a few days break from carpentry. I needed to do some other things.

q3Earlier I got feedback on the size and placement of my window. So now I have lowered it and mad it larger. The bottom is now at 78cm, just above the height of a nijiriguchi that is 66-78cm. The window size has been increased from 40x30cm to 60×50. Visually it could have been even bigger I think. However, the wall is only 130cm and I want to be able to slide the window out of the way so that I can opperate the lights that are mounted behind. Also it might be a nice place to have another shelf for dogu. I hope that I will be able to paint and finish up this wall during the weekend. Still waiting for measurements of the mizuya shelves, so I can’t start on them. Hopefully I will get some measurements next week.

The Making of Chashitsu, Day 13-17

q5I have been painting, painting and painting the last few days. The first walls were easy, as I could remove them from the sliders and just place them on the floor to paint them. The sand looked really nice on these. The walls that could not be removed was more work. There I had to mix sand into the paint, and be careful not to paint the birch. After two coatings the room looks almost finished. I got some feedback from a friend in Kyoto that I should have placed the main window differently and have made it bigger. I’m still waiting for details. This is also the only wall segment that has not been painted.

Behind the left walls when entering the Tea-room I have some storage space. I had not thought about the size, since the layout of the room pretty much dictated how it would be. I have brought all the Tea items I own down, and I could just fit all the boxes in the storage area 🙂 Which means that it will be some free space in there as soon as I start putting items out in the mizuya.

The Making of Chashitsu, Day 11

q6Another day working on the Tea-room has come to an end. Today I got the walls up for half the room, the most tricky half I believe/hope. It’s a bit hard to tell from the image that something has changed as the wall plates are almost the same colour as the wall were yesterday. I still need spackle the seams between the wall plates before I can paint them.
Also got the combined guest and host entrance to the created. I decided on making it brown even though I’m not going to use that colour for any other elements. I need to make a nice door knob. Now it is just a gaping hole. Do you happen to have some spare bamboo that I could use? Need a piece that is 6-7cm in diamater. I only need a few cm worth of bamboo around the node.

Things took much longer time than anticipated, again. But at least I do not see any very difficult tasks that has to be done tomorrow, so hopefully progress will be better.

The Making of Chashitsu, Day 10

q7Started early today. I was at the hardware store just minutes after they opened. I needed some new tools to move forward with the project. Got a jigsaw and a sanding machine along with some other small things.
Spent half a day and all I really had to show for it was one fusuma railing fastened to the ceiling. I had such a hard time getting it up there!
After lunch I felt more productive. It was much quicker to get the remaining railings up after that first tricky one. At the end of the day I had all railings fastened to the ceiling. Also put inn a small section of the wall above the door, just to see how my system with grooves for the walls would work. I’m very happy with the result, the wall section fit perfect. Though it need some colour and texture before it’s done. Looking forward to placing more walls tomorrow.

Finally I gave the white birch pillars a quick wash with some mould and algae disinfect. I still remember last time I used self-cut-wood in a Tea-room. I made a nice tokobashira, and after a week it was covered in mould and had stained a tatami. This time I’m going to be proactive and disinfect it in advance. Hoping to avoid all any mould.

I got two horizontal pieces of wood above the door. The lower one will only be visible above teh door. The rest of it will be hidden. I had to have two railings to avoid a electric junction-box that would have blocked the door.