From the archives

Today is my 400th post on the SweetPersimmon blog, and to celebrate, (ha) I went back to read all the entries from the beginning. I am linking to some of my favorite posts, in no particular order.   What is your favorite post on the site?

Guest etiquette for chakai

Hataraki – working things out

Thoughts on gomei or poetic names

Do Gaku Jitsu

The season for udon

Its not about perfection

Dogu, more tea stuff

Sitting seiza is not comfortable

Easy Daifukumochi tea sweet recipe

Just say “hai”

Basically anything that I wrote with the phrase “sensei says”

In memory of Minako sensei

Take a left before you get to the Buddha

The host revealed

The danger of cutting flowers

Wagashi for foodies

The power of committment

Expert Tea Master


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New reading material

I just want to call your attention to a few new (at least new to me) publications of interest to fellow Chado students, and they are in English.  You can find these along with other recommended books at the for further reading page

NEW! Sen Genshitsu Talks About the Enjoyment Of Tea by Sen Genshitsu, Urasenke Grand Tea Master XV, Translated to English by Maya Perry
ISBN-10: 4473032965 Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-4473032966

Fifteenth Generation Urassenke Grand Master talks about memorable tea gatherings, guest and host, the lineage of Rikyu, the spirit of hospitality, tea equipment, and becoming better at doing tea among many other topics.  Notable for the English translation of the hundred poems at the back of the book.



NEW! Urasenke Chado Textbook, translated to English based on the Japanese textbook, Urasenke Chado
ISBN-10: 4473036960 Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-4473036964

Replacement for Uransenke Handbooks 1 and 2.  A much more informational book with less emphasis on actual teaching and photos of procedures.  Topics include:  the spirit of Chado, Zen, Classics related to Chado, tea and health, history and development of Chado, the tea room, the roji, utensils and the significance of temae. Reference material at the back of the book.



NEW! Moon by the Window, The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada
ISBN 9780861716487 Paperback

Shodo Harada is internationally recognized both as a Zen teacher and as a world class master of the fine art of Zen calligraphy.  Harada regularly exhibits and gives calligraphy demonstrations in museums and universities in the U.S. and abroad.  Moon by the Window is a collection of 108 pieces of Shodo Harada’s calligraphic Zen masterpieces assembled over the decades, and drawn from the rich and poetic literature of the Zen tradition.  Each work is accompanied by Harada Roshi’s sharp and glittering commentaries, making each page a spiritually edifying and aesthetically uplifting  treasure.

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Meibutsugire part 4 Kanto

Fabrics with stripes, plaid or checked patterns are called kanto. There are different reasons why fabrics with certain patterns can be considered kanto fabrics, and no clear rules exist for classifying them.

In the 16th centry, when kanto fabrics were introduced into Japan, the striped and checked patterns felt new and fresh to chajin (Tea practitioners). From that time on, they were used for making pouches for chaire (thick tea container), considerably earlier than donsu and kinran. Even after donsu and kinran became highly valued, the use of kanto fabrics did not decline because they provided a new range of fabric colors.

Here are a few examples:


Aoki Kanto

The name of this fabric comes from its original owner, Aoki, who was Toyotomi Hideyoshi shogun’s retainer.

Kapitan kanto

Kapitan big stripes

Mumei Kanto

Shusuji Kanto

Tosai Kanto (10 colors)

Nikuzushi Kanto

Nikuzushi Kanto close up

All three samples above Sagara Kanto

Mochizuki Kanto

Yoshino Kanto

It is said that Lady Yoshino favoured this pattern for her Uchikake, a coat dress. She was a wife of Haiya Jyoeki, a rich merchant who lived in Kyoto in 17th century.

Yoshino kanto

My sensei had a beloved bunrin chaire with a shifuku made of this kereji in these exact colors.  We used it for many years until she passed away.  We don’t know what happened to the chaire, but it remains one of my favorite fabrics.

*Fabric photos courtesy of  Kitamura Tokusai Fukusaten Co., Ltd., Kyoto, Japan.via the now closed website Tea Hyakka.

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Meibutsugire part 3 Donsu

Donsu , a damask satin. like kinran, comes in a great variety of patterns. It is a thick, lustrous fabric made of silk. It is not as dazzling as kinran, but rather has a quiet kind of beauty. The design is integrated into the ground and does not protrude from the surface of the cloth, as in other brocades.

The pre-dyed warp and weft threads are woven where one side of the cloth is warp faced and the other is weft faced and a design is made by reversing the face in the pattern areas.  Not all the meibutsugire fabrics caterogized as donsu have this weave structure. Some exceptions are woven with a twill ground. Since it is finely woven with strongly twisted dyed threads, the overall feel of the fabric is soft.. Chajin especially loved the quiet patterns and pliability of donsu, and for this reason, many chaire pouches have been made with it.

Some examples:

Araiso Donsu

Ariso donsu is an image of fish in the waves.  You can also see this motif in the ariso tana and on other tea utensils.


All of the examples above are called Iyosudare donsu.  The name comes from the rred blinds caled iyo sudare.  The design usually consists of stripes with various treasures against a checkeboard ground, or plum blossoms.  The original fabric had both treasures and blossoms in one continuous fabric, but you can see both designs separately.  This fabric was made into a shifuku for the chuko meibutsu chaire called “Sokushiki”


Hosokawa Donsu

Hosokawa donsu was owned by Hosokawa Sansai (1564-1645) who was one of Rikyu’s seven students.


Soami Donsu

Soami served the shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga in the Higashiyama period (1435 –1490) as a sort of curator (dobushu) of Yoshimasa’s collections.


Rikyu-bai Donsu

The name Rikyu-bai donsu actually comes from the similarity of the plum blossom motif with the flower known as Riky?-bai.  This cloth was used by an Edo period tea master to make a shifuku for a black ch?-natsume[lacquered tea-container] which bears Riky?’s signature in red lacquer on the inside of the lid; as a result this cloth is commonly, but mistakenly, understood to have been favored by Riky? (forgetting that Riky? died in 1592, while the Ching Dynasty was not founded until 1616).  The cloth itself, a similar textile (featuring a plum-blossom motif in ocher on a dark-blue background) is occasionally encountered under the name Riky-bai donsu. The true Riky?-bai donsu has a plum-blossom motif which fits into an oblong diamond (though this is not so obvious at a glance, since the design has five points rather than four), while the other (which is actually based upon the ori-dome, or woven-on cover, of the striped Iyo-sudare donsu (see above)has a plum-blossom which fits into a circle (thus it is shaped like a regular 5-pointed star).



Oribe Donsu

Oribe donsu is said to be in the taste of Furuta Oribe, a disciple of Rikyu.  On a deep, quiet blue ground, the light yellow-green waves stand out, with plum blossoms floating on them.  Oribe was very fond of plum blossoms as he used that motif in his designs for ceramics and other fabrics.

Sokun Donsu

This example of a geometric pattern is sometimes known as shippo tsunage, or interlocking seven treasures.  The treasure elements appear in varied form on a blue background in the center of the circle with plum blossoms. The name of this fabric comes from its original owner, Imai Sokun. Sokun, son of Imai Sogyu, was a tea master in the end of the 16th century begining of the 17th century.

Sumiyoshi Donsu

Sumiyoshi donsu is a geometric triangular design.  It was used as a pouch for a thick tea caddy called “Sumiyoshi Bunrin Chaire.”

Mozuya Donsu

It is said that Mozuya Soan, who was a merchant in Sakai, Osaka and Sen Rikyu’s daughter’s husband, possesed this fabric.

Sasasuru donsu

Designed with the auspicious pine-bamboo-plum motif  (shochikubai) symbols of long-life, nobility and hope). Sasazuru donsu has many different variations.

*Fabric photos courtesy of  Kitamura Tokusai Fukusaten Co., Ltd., Kyoto, Japan.via the now closed website Tea Hyakka..

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Mebutsugire part 2 Kinran

Kinran (gold brocade) is considered the most gorgeous of the meibutsu-gire. The first syllable of the word, kin, means “gold”. the second, ran, refers to cloth that was attached to the hem of a Buddhist cloak to strengthen it.  Kinran has a ground wave of twill and weft patterns woven with either gold thread or threadlike strips of gilded paper.  Kinran was first made in China (known as Zhijin) during the Song Dynasty. It came to Japan through Sino- Japanese trade at the end of the Fujiwara and Kamakura periods, in form of ceremonial robes for Zen monks. Kinran began to be made in Japan during the Momoyama period.

Below are some of the more well know kinran fabrics and patterns:

Futari Shizuka Kinran

The name of this fabric comes from a Noh play called Futari Shizuka. It is said that Ashikaga Yoshimasa shogun (1436-1490) performed this particular play wearing a costume made of Futari Shizuka Kinran fabric. Late Sung period – early Ming period.


Daito Kinran

Daito kinran has a design of auspicious clouds.  Daito kinran is popularly believed to be the fabric used in the surplice of Daito Kokushi, the founder of Daitokuji (temple) in Kyoto, Sung period


Osaka Kinran

Osaka kinran is named after the shifuku used with the Osaka Marutsubo chaire, from the Ming period.


Wakuda Kinran

Wakuda kinran has a design of waterfowl in a lotus pond.  Named for the owner of the fabric, from the Ming dynasty.


Shippo Setsugekka Kinran

Shippo Setsugeka Kinran is a design of interlocking rings, with snowflakes, moon and flowers, favored by the Urasenke14th Generation Grand Tea Master Tantansai.


Hariya Kinran

Hariya Kinran was named after the shifuku used with the Hariya Katatsuki chaire owned by Hariya Soshum. Also called fish scale pattern.


Itoya Kinran

Itoya is a design of jeweled wheels on a basket weave background.  It is often woven as a futusu, or double weave fabric where the opposite colors appear on the reverse side.  Where blue appears on one side of the cloth, yellow shows on the other and between them a pocket is created.  Futsu weave is named for “breeze funnel” and derives from the empty space between the two faces of the fabric.  If this were woven with gold thread it is “Itoya futsu kinran.”   The fabric name comes from the cloth owned by Itoya Ryotei, who lived in Kyoto in the 16th century.  This fabric was made into a shifuku for the chaire named “Sogo nasu.”  This fabric was first made in China, probably, Ming dinasty around 1573-1619.


Hanausagi Kinran

Hanausagi Kinran

Chaji Hanausagi Kinran

Moegiji Hanausagi Kinran

Suminokura Kinran

The previous five fabrics are variations of a cute rabbit standing on its hind legs looking back at some blossoming trees.  The last one is named Suminokura kinran for the wealthy Kyoto merchant Suminokura Ryoi, who was particularly fond of that kind of design, the difference is that the pattern is bigger than Hanausagi Kinran.

There are many other famously named kinran fabrics, but you can begin to recognize these fabrics in your study when the guests ask about shifuku kereji.

*Fabric photos courtesy of  Kitamura Tokusai Fukusaten Co., Ltd., Kyoto, Japan.via the now closed website Tea Hyakka..

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