This post is a follow-up to Chanoyu, Temae, and Chadogu

Hai (灰) -The Ash

The Hai (灰) is ceremonial ash.  This tea dogu refers to the ash placed into a brazier or fire hearth that is used to heat the ceremonial tea water.  Ash is considered the foundation of the heating bed of lit charcoal traditionally used in both the portable brazier and sunken fire hearth. 

During the ceremony when ash is added, it will be lifted into intricate displays by the ceremony host in turn – intended to be esteemed by the viewing guests.

There are a number of different ashes used in a Japanese tea ceremony, based on the season of the year and the specific tea ceremony engaged.  The different types of ash used include the following:

  • Caltrop Ash – Hishibai (菱灰)  – A reddish-brown ash produced from water caltrop shells. It is used primarily in the container for the lighter fire. 
  • Moist Ash – Shimeshibai (湿灰) – A damp ash used in a sunken hearth. 
  • Silky Ash – Fukusabai (ふくさ灰) – This is a very pure, smooth, and dry ash used primarily in portable braziers. 
  • Straw Ash – Warabai (藁灰) – This ash is black in color and is created from burned sticks and straw.  This ash is placed atop the brazier ash and used toward the end of the season of the brazier used before winter hearth use begins.
  • Wisteria Ash – Fujibai (藤灰) – This white ash is created by burned wisteria bean pods and typically used in a brazier.  Wisteria ash is considered a decorative ash (called akibai) and is used to enhance the brazier ash that has been sculpted into a design by the ceremonial host.

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Sumi (炭) – The Charcoal

The Sumi (炭) is ceremonial charcoal.  The ceremonial charcoal used during the tea ceremony is produced from a type of oak.  The wood charcoal is cured in a kiln and then cut into various sizes and shapes.  

The longer pieces of finished charcoal are then cut into specific lengths for use.  There are at least seven different finishing shapes and sizes to ceremonial charcoal. The lengths and shapes differ depending upon whether the charcoal will be used in a brazier or sunken hearth.

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Sumitori (炭斗 or 炭取) – The Charcoal Carrier or Charcoal Basket

The Sumitori (炭斗 or 炭取) is better known as the charcoal container or charcoal basket.  The Sumitori contains all the needed equipment to replenish the fire in the furo brazier under the kama kettle to both heat the kama kettle and to keep the tea water warm throughout the ceremony.

During Chanoyu, there is a taeme (ceremonial procedure) that the host will follow whenever new charcoal is placed into the furo brazier throughout the tea ceremony.  When needed, charcoal is removed from the charcoal basket with fire chopsticks (hibashi).  

The charcoal and charcoal-laying instruments — including the charcoal container, various sizes and shapes of charcoal, ash container, feather brush (Haboki), charcoal chopsticks (Hibashi), kettle rings (Kan), coaster (Kamashiki), and incense — will be transported to and from the tea room in the Sumitori.  The Sumitori will remain in the tea room throughout the tea ceremony for the charcoal-laying procedure.

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Habōki (羽箒) – Feather Broom

Habōki (羽箒) are feather brooms of various styles and used in various ways.  The broom used during the tea ceremony is called a mitsubane (三つ羽).  The feather broom is oftentimes made from the feather of a crane or an eagle.

The mitsubane is used to ritually clean either the portable brazier or the sunken hearth (whichever is in use) whenever the kettle is removed.  It is also used during the part of the ceremony known as the “charcoal-laying procedure”.  

Because the mitsubane is brought to the tea room with the charcoal container (sumitori), it evidences its place as a low-ranking Chadogu. However, each time the feather broom is picked up, its rim will be lightly touched to indicate its status as the highest of the low ranking Chadogu.  

Other types of feather brooms are used for sweeping the tea room in preparation of the ceremony.

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Hibashi (火箸) – The Fire Chopsticks

The Hibashi (火箸), translates simply to mean “fire chopsticks”.  These metal chopsticks are used by the host during the tea ceremony to handle and place charcoal in the brazier or fire hearth to heat the tea water in the tea room.

Fire Chopsticks are placed into the charcoal carrier, also called the “charcoal basket”, and transported to and from the tea ceremony by the host.

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To be concluded in Essential Low-Ranking Chadogu for Ceremony of Tea – Part 2

Author Kei Nishida is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, and uses product images with permission