Tea house moving forward again

Since I last posted  about the “Stabbur” project not to much have happened with the project. I was distracted be the urge to first get a propper bathroom inside the main house, then to make sure the main building was properly drained. Since that last drainage activity was quicker than anticipated I was left with a two day vacation to try to get something done on the Tea house. During the summer I was able to finish ut the south wall of the “Stabbur,” as shown in the first photo.

This Thursday to Sunday is dedicated to the Tea house. Some work had perviously been done on the west wall so I decided to start with that.

Thursday saw the lower part to completion. Friday I started tearing down the old planks of the upper section, then reconstructing the wall according to modern building practice. I added more support beams, and covered up with huge boards 120cm x 240xm that i designed to keep the wind out and also give some insulation. These was then covered with a water resistant layer. Finished it of with small 1” x 2” that I later will attache the planks too. This allows air to circulate between the water/wind layer and the wooden planks preventing rot.

I’ll keep updating this post over the weekend, so look back if your interested in following the progress.

Tsurezure dana


During my recent trip to Warsaw I was introduced to a wonderfull tana. Tsurezure dana is made of laquered wood. The middle shelfe is hidden behind two small doors. Using the small hangles on the mini fusuma you can slid them back to reveale the natsume.

Tsurezure dana was designed by Tantansai, Urasenkes 14th Oiemoto.

I liked this tana alot. I liked how it keeps the natsume hidden untill it is needed. I like how the doors and the movements to open them brings extra focus to the revealing of the natsume.

Temae Notes

This tana is only used during Ro season. This might be because it is quite wide.

The natsume is keept inside the tana. To bring out natsume first first slide back the left doors using your left hand, and then slide back the right door using right hand. The doors are closed as soon as the natsume is out. All this is done while still holding the natsume. As you open or close the right door you need pass the natsume to your left hand and similarly for the left door.

Small doors on the tana

Hishaku and futaoki can be placed on top. Since it is a square shape the hishaku cup should be facing upward presenting a round shape. Hishaku is places diagonalu, with the cup slightly to the left of the center and the handle on the right side. Furaoki goes to the left of hishaku.

During sumi the feather and kogo can be placed similarly as described above for hishaku and futaoki.

When refilling the mizusashi at the end of the temae it is moved to the front of the tana, and a mizutsugi is used.




Window / Decoration at the bottom




kan1I guess most of you know what a kanji is, for those few that does not they are the Chinese characters used in Japanese (and Chinese) written language. They are also a pain in the お尻.

I strongly believe that kanji is the reason I was unable to master Japanese language. Main reason being that the kanji made it very tedious to pick up a Japanese book and improve the language by just reading a lot, like I did with English.

That was somewhat of a digression. These days I mostly come into contact with kanji in regards to Tea. I get utensils catalog regularly sent to me, the problem is that the only thing I’m able to read is the price, since that is written with regular number. All the rest I have to figure out from the images.

All that is about to change, or at least that is my hope. This weekend I found a fantastic app for my iPhone. It is a magnificent kanji dictionary. A dictionary in it self it not such a great thing, but for this one I bought a OCR module. For those not familiar with the geek-term OCR it stands for “Optical Character Recognition”. Which basically means that it is able to recognize a character or word from a picture.

I wasn’t at home when I discovered this app, and did not have access to any printed material with kanji at my location. Anxious to put my newly purchased app to the test I found a image of a chawan I had online. I used my phone to take a picture of my laptop screen with the chawan image shown. So in other words I gave the app bit of a challenge. I imagine it will work even better when you take the image directly from the catalogue.
The first image shows how I have selected the kanji I want to have translated using a combination of the left cross to move the selection and the right arrows to resize it into a proper size. Then I told the app to do it’s magic. As you can see it found chawan. If I click on the suggested kanji it will take me to a more extensive page about this word. This page is shown in the next image. From this page I can find the meaning of the word “rice bowl; tea cup.” The pronunciation is given. If you for some reason can’t read hiragana and is still interested in the kanji pronunciation you can have the app read it out loud to you. The machine pronunciation is not great, but it is there. At the top line you can see the two kanji. If you tap either of them you will be taken to a detailed page for that kanji. See the third image. At this page you can find almost anything you want to know about this kanji. Number of strokes,


meaning, and pronunciation (on, kun, nanori). Clicking on the number of strokes will take you to yet another page. This page, which I have not included a image of, shows you in which order and which direction each stroke should be written.

I have only looked into the OCR feature of this app, and haven’t taken any pains to try to explain what else the app can do. Mostly, I must admit, because I haven’t had time to look that much into the app.
In conclusion wishoTouch is a great app, and I will probably use it a lot for dogu shopping. However it is a pricy app. The main app currently cost $20. In addition you’ll need the OCR module that cost another $7. So a total of $27.

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.

Acquiring the utensils of the way – Zuiun

zAs you walk the path of Chado and learn more, most people eventually want to acquire some utensils of their own. There are tons of web site that sell the basic, chawan, chasen, chashaku and chakin. However once you start looking for anything outside the basic things get trickier. I have found a few English web sites that do sell dogu. However, the do usually not have a very good selection and their prices as also usually much higher than the stores in Japan.

I do neither read nor write Japanese so I thought it would be impossible to order dir
ectly from Japan. With help from a friend in Japan I got Zuin to send me a bunch of catalogues. I guess I could have tried to contact them directly about that, but I did not.
I wrote them a minimalistic order, with as little English as possible:
Shipping address:
Shipping price?
728113 – Furosakibyobu  price 19.600
728150 – Red chawan  price 3.520
216 187 – Chaire price 5.200
Pay with VISA, ok?


I sent it on e-mail to the shop. Two days later I got two PDF’s in return and a short e-mail. The first PDF was payment instructions. Luckily these were in English. Second PDF was a quote for the items. Some of my catalogues were quite old and the prices were apparently outdated. I made changes to the order PDF as they had done some mistakes. For instance they had not understood that I wanted several of some items. Also I used the PDF to chose among the three shipping methods they had lined up, and to remove some items that I thought got to expensive with the new prices. Then sent them back the PDF. They quickly updated the PDF and returned it the same day.

Looking over the order I was quite happy. The payment instructions was easy to follow. Three days after entering the money transfer into my internet bank I received a confirmation that the money had been received and that the order would be shipped immediately. Indeed the day after I was informed that the order had been shipped. Now I’m anxiously awaiting my new dogu’s arrival.

In summary ordering dogu from Zuiun directly seems to be possible even if you do not speak Japanese. You might have to go trough ordering the catalogues first. They do however post some of their catalogues online, see here for one excample. Also I found google translate a usfull tool for browsing the Zuiun web page.

There are always another detail to learn

Recently I got a new camera, and I just wanted to share some photos that I took. With the camera I also bought a macro lens. Taking images with a macro lens makes you look at details in a different way. I thought I would share some of the photo I took after today’s keiko.
d1 d2 d3


tana2Living in a country where there are no professional teacher, and not even a very active chado association. I´m limited to study with the dogu I own. Since leaving Kyoto in 2005 I have only had access to a very limited selection of tana. I have a maru joku that I made my self based on the measurements I took while in Japan 2003. I also have a koko-dana and a daisu.

With this in mind I ordered a tana that tana1can be assembled in eight different ways. This will allow me to study the use of eight different tana with out needing to buys them individually or even store them individually. I think this is a great invention. The image above shows the different pieces the tana consist of, while the image below shows one of the possible ways to assemble it.

I planning to put to gather a page on http://wiki.chado.no describing how to use it in the different assemblies. I hope that some of you will help me get this correct.

The only thing that I´m a bit skeptical to is that it is kiji, that is unlacquered wood. It seems a bit silly to have a piece of okeiko dogu that can so easily be stained.


Since I made my first chawan I have wanted to make chaire. I have tried sculpting one using the same technique that I use when I make chawan, without any success. I do not own a potters wheel, and have neither space nor money for one. So that is not a option either.

In 2007 before Christmas I learned to make cups using a mold and liquid clay. A year later I have now acquired the ingredients for making my own molds.

This image series shows me making a chaire mold and finally a chaire.

The tana documentation project, 2

This weekend I finally had some time to start on the tana project. I have updated the Tana page with more general20070129-20070129-IMG_2663a information about ko-dana and I have created detailed pages for Koko-dana and Maru-Joku.
Furthermore, I created a new page with a list of all the Konomi that I found during the research. Having made the Konomi list, I decided that this information should also be available under each tea master, so I included it under Rikyu, Sotan and Gengensai. This way, a small part of the Konomi page is shown at the bottom of each of the pages about the tea mastersand it is updated automatically.

I hope you find this information useful, and that you will continue to contribute to the project. There are still many tanas to document. I do not own more tanas myself, and will therefore be unable to take photos of any other tana. If you have access to a tana, I would greatly appreciate if you would take images of it, if possible with other utensils placed correctly inside.