Chasen is one of the utensils of the Japanese tea ceremony. It is a bamboo whisk to mix matcha with hot water evenly in a bowl and make it foamy. There are about 120 kinds of chasen with variety of shapes, materials and the number of ears at the head. Which chasen to select depends on a school of tea ceremony or a tea master’s preference. Basically there are two kinds of chasen; Kazuho, which has thin and sparse ear at the head, is used for usucha (thin tea), while Araho, which has thick and dense ear at the head, is used for koicha (thin tea). To use a chasen in a formal manner, one holds a chawan (tea bowl) with the non-dominant hand and holds a bamboo handle of chasen with a thumb, the index finger and the middle finger of the dominant hand. Here, we can see emphasis on the formal beauty that is in common with calligraphy. Chasen is an indispensable tool for Japanese tea ceremony culture.
Saigyo-an located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a hermitage, where Saigyo supposedly spent three years. Saigyo (1118-1190) was a great poet in the Heian period and wrote poems for “Shin-Kokin-shu” and “Sanka-shu.” The wooden statue of Saigyo is placed inside the hut. Cherishing the memory of Saigyo, Matsuo Basho visited the hut and composed a poem in 1684. Two stone monuments respectively inscribed with a poem by Saigyo and Basho stand in front of this serene hermitage. Surrounded with cherry blossoms in spring and autumnal foliage in fall, the hermitage will impress you with the wabi-sabi aesthetic and inspire your poetic mind.
A clear water called “Koke-Shimizu” springs out in the vicinity. It is counted as one of 31 Fine Water in Yamato.
Kikugetsutei is a tea house is an aristocratic tea house located in Ritsurin Park, which is famous for its exquisite stroll-type garden. The construction of this garden started in 1625 by the lord of the Takamatsu domain, Ikoma Takatoshi, and was completed in 1745 after 100 years of improvements and extensions made by five successive domain lords of the Matsudaira family. The park was designated a prefectural park and opened to the public in 1875.
The lord of the Matsudaira family loved this grand Kikugetsutei Tea House.
With the greenery of Mt. Shiun as a backdrop, its elegant shape looks in good harmony with the pond. The tea house is in Shoin-zukuri style (the style of warrior residences) and elaborately designed so that you can fully appreciate the beauty of the pond and the surrounding landscape beyond the water.
On the second Sunday every month, you can join the tea ceremony “Tsuki-gama” here at Kikugetsutei Tea House.
Senkoen Garden in Ebetsu City, Hokkaido is the site where the residence of Magozaemon Sekiya used to be located. It is the city’s designated historic site and the first cultural property designated by the city. Magozaemon Sekiya was the second-generation president of Hokuetsu Shokuminsha, an organization of pioneer farmers from Niigata Prefecture. In 1918, one year after he died, the farmers volunteered to perform maintenance to the premise and arranged it into the park garden named Senkoen in memory of the pioneer farmers who were devoted themselves to the development of the city. The Doan teahouse was also built at this time.
The name “Senko-en” derives from an episode that when the stone monument inscribed with “Ryukon (meaning that “the spirit will yet remain)” was erected by the villagers who were thankful to Magozaemon’s devoted efforts, he was very pleased and chanted “Senko-no-ku // Ippenn-no-ishi ni // Todomaru (Emptiness of thousand years // stays in // this piece of stone)” when he took a walk around the garden.
A lot of trees including magnolia (Magnolia praecocissima var. borealis), beech, cherry, alder and yew, most of which were planted in those days. Visitors can enjoy viewing beautiful blossoms of cherry and magnolia in spring and crimson foliage in fall.
Hassoan (literally meaning “the eight window hut”) is a Japanese tea house in Nakajima Park in Chuo-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. It is one of the oldest Japanese-styled buildings in the city and is a historic building that symbolizes the park. It was designated as a national Important Cultural Property in 1950.
This tea house was originally built inside Komuro Castle in present Siga Prefecture, where Kobori Enshu (1579-1647), a tea ceremony master of the Edo period, resided. It was designed by Enshu himself when he was in his later years. It is a Nijo-daime (2and 3/4 tatamis, namely about 2 x 3 m square) tea house with 8 windows, from which the name derived. The eight windows are placed to create spacious impression in this small room.
Another tea house named “Sanbuan” was annexed to the original building when the tea house was bought by a wealthy business man in Sapporo in the Taisho period (1912-1926). The tea house was donated to the city of Sapporo in 1971 and relocated to Nakajima Park.
Zenshoji is an old temple of the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. It originates in a hermitage built by Priest Genshin, who wrote “Ojo Yoshu (Essentials of Salvation)” in the Heian period (794-1192). The temple is said to be the most beautiful in the Hida region, and is counted as one of the ten fine temples in the country. Its garden was designed by Kanamori Sowa, the founder of Sowa Ryu tea ceremony school. This elegant garden includes a tea ceremony house and a stroll style garden of Banzaido, where the rocks named Daruma-ishi, Zazen-ishi and Reihai-seki are beautifully arranged.
Inside the temple building, the masterpiece of Sesshu “Happo Nirami Daruma” is displayed, which is worth seeing. The precinct has a calm and peaceful atmosphere. The 1,200-year-old huge cedar tree, which is designated as a National Natural Monument, is really overwhelming. Being close to Gero Hot Springs, a lot of tourists visit this temple all through the year.
Hagi Castle was constructed in 1604 by Mori Terumoto, who lost to the Tokugawa forces in the Battle of Sekigahara. His huge territory in Hiroshima was confiscated and he was moved to Hagi as the lord of the Choshu domain.
The structure of Hagi Castle is interesting in that it is primarily a flatland castle but Terumoto also built a compound called Tsume no maru at the top of Mt. Shizuki. The donjon, watch tower and other structures were demolished in 1874 under the Castle Abolition Law. Only the stone walls and moats remain today.
The castle site was arranged into Shizuki Park with an area of 200,000 sq m when Shizukiyama Shrine was built in the ruins of Honmaru (the main castle) to enshrine the successive lords of the Mori clan.
Today the structures such as the ruins of the donjon, the Banzai Bridge and the East Yard also remain in the park. Some of the historic buildings in the city were relocated to the park and open to the public, which include Hananoe Tea House, the tea house of the Nashiba family and the old Shoin-room of the Fukuhara family.
In spring, this park is famed for its cherry blossoms including the prefecturally designated Natural Monument “Midori Yoshino,” which produces cherry blossoms with green calyces, and 600 Somei Yoshino cherry trees.
Kanazawa still feels like a castle town. It is the site of a castle as well as many samurai houses. In addition, the romantic teahouse streets have not changed at all.
Nishi Teahouse Street is to the south of the Sai River, and is synonymous with Kanazawa. In the third year of the Bunsei period, the Kaga Domain had the street built along with Higashi Teahouse Street.
Even today, Japanese-style restaurants and geisha-girl delivery stores produce items of great elegance. After dark, the sounds of the shamisen can be heard, lending the streets further charm.
In olden times, most teahouses used to refuse first-time customers. This was the case with Higashi Street, but now there are Japanese-style hotels, souvenir shops and cafes lining its sides. It is most enjoyable to walk down the street.
Nishi Teahouse Museum is located in the building where Seijiro Shimada, a writer born in Mikawa, Ishikawa prefecture, lived when young and there are items exhibited here describing his early life.