What are on the alcove for the tea ceremony?
We display an incense box with flowers and the hanging scroll (calligraphy) on the alcove for the tea room. The design of the incense box changes according to the season, but is it only for the decollation?
Actually, it’s not only for the decollation.
It’s an important utensil we use in the tea ceremony. In the formal traditional tea ceremony, we burn the incense in the charcoal fire under the iron kettle to boil hot water.
The incense and incense box, which changes according to the season.
Talking about the incense box, it’s parted into 2 groups. Also the incense we have 2 kinds, one for summer, one for winter season.
1,The incense box made of pottery (from November to April) : a soft round cake of incense called “Neriko” is in it.
2,The incense box made of wood, bamboo or lacquer. (from May to September) square wooden chips of incenses are in it.
I changed the room from Ro to Furo style recently because it’s already in the end of April. The incense box was changed from pottery to wooden one.
This is carp, which is one of the item for Boy’s festival (Iris’s festival) in May 5th.
Exceptionally, we can use the incense box made of shell or metal whole in the year.
The shape of the incense boxes
We have varieties of incense boxes to enjoy seasons in a tea room. It’s not only 4 seasons actually. For example, early spring starts from plum blossoms, peach blossoms and Hina dolls. As you know, the most beautiful spring is Sakura (cherry blossoms) season in April. After cherry blossoms, Japanese yellow roses start blooming.
These are the wooden incense boxes for summer. Japanese instruments and a round fan with morning glories.
Japanese old coach, a mandarin duck for autumn and winter, and a diamond rice cake around March 3rd.
The host will choose one for the tea ceremony from the varieties of designs such as animals, birds, home utensils etc.
Of course, we can use these pretty utensils for the display in our daily room, but in the tea ceremony, the incense is not only for the decollation but also for the important utensils to purify the air of the tea room and ease our hearts.
The incense and incense box in the tea ceremony
We display a hanging scroll (calligraphy), flowers and an incense box on the alcove for the tea ceremony if it’s just for light tea. We call this style 3 utensils are displayed “Moro kazari”.
A vase is put near the kitchen in a tea room and an incense box is placed on the other side on Japanese folded papers.
Precisely speaking, the color of the paper under the incense box is usually white. Paper including red color is used for the tea ceremony for some happy occasions.
Talking about the whole tea ceremony including Japanese meal, sake, and thick tea etc, the only the calligraphy is displayed on the alcove first. After the meal, sake and fresh sweats, the host will redecorate the tea room while guests take a break in the garden. When the guests come back, only the flowers are on the alcove.
Then, what happen to the incense box? Actually, we have the time for the way of burning charcoal in the whole ceremony. Guests watches the way to burn charcoal to boil hot water. In that case, the guests will see the incense box just after the way of burning charcoal, so it’s not on the alcove.
Therefore, if the incense box is on the alcove, it means the host will serve powdered green tea soon. The way of burning charcoal will be omitted.
The incense box is one of the important tea utensils in a tea room, although we can use them just for decoration or the accessory cases for the daily life.