Chashaku -Tea Scoops of the Legendary Tea Masters-

February 28, 2020 Juju Kurihara Craft, Culture, Foods, History, Language Tags: , , , , , , , 4 Comments

Many of you may have attended a tea ceremony or maybe some of you practice it. The word Matcha is commonly heard outside of Japan nowadays. Even here in Berlin, I see many sweets with matcha taste. 


I learnt tea ceremony at school. It was a part of the school curriculum and we had the class every week. Although seiza wasn’t my favourite thing, I was fascinated by the utensils for the tea ceremony as well as its elegance.


Today I like to look at take-chashaku (竹茶杓), bamboo tea scoops. Many tea masters make their own chashaku and the gran masters in the history such as Rikyu (千利休),  Joo (武野紹鷗),  Sansai (細川三斎) were not the exceptions.  


Here are the tea scoops of the gran masters.[/caption]From the far left, Rikyu (千利休), Joo (武野紹鴎), Sansai, Oribe (古田織部), Koetsu (本阿弥光悦), Enshu (小堀遠州).[/caption]Chashaku is used for scooping matcha powder. Originally it was a spoon came from China and it was made of ivory. Ancient Japanese people got an idea from it and modified including the material to bamboo. 


Later, the master Joo created one that left a bamboo joint on the lower part of the tea scoop and it was called, Tomebushi (止め節). While another master Rikyu created the one with a joint in the middle and it was called, Nakabushi (中節). What we use commonly now is this Rikyu style. 




(1) Tsuyu: The tip of the chashaku. The shape can be round or pointed, depending on the craftsman. 

(2) Kaisaki: Front part of the chashaku.

(3) Fushi: The bamboo joint. This can be on the middle of the scoop or the lower part of the scoop.

(4) Kiridome: The other end of the scoop. The way the craftsman cuts the end is a part of the beauty of the work.

(5) Kijimomo: The arch the other side of sushi. Pheasants’ thighs are slim unlike chickens’. As this part is carved thin, it’s called pheasants’ thigh.

(6) Ottori: Where you place the hand.


Each part of the chashaku is a beauty. Please enjoy it when you have a chance to hold one. 



Tomozutsu and Oizutsu:

Chashaku is kept in a tube case called Tsutsu (筒/tube). Tomozutsu (共筒) is a case that the same craftsman who made the chashaku made. While Oizutsu (追筒) is the one made after the tea scoop by other craftsman. 


On the surface of the tsutsu, the brand name, craftsman’s name are written and his (or her) seal stamped.  The stopper of the tube is commonly made of cedar wood.



Here are the chashaku of the great masters.



As there are ditches on the both side of fushi. There is even a hole called suana (巣穴/burrow). In the middle is tomozutsu which is made by Urasenke Kakukakusai (裏千家六世覚々斎) and on the left is a spare tube made by Urasenke Rikkansai (裏千家六世六閑斎). 





Not so many of Joo's chashaku have remained. He was the creator of tomebushi (止節), the ones fushi places lower part of the scoop. But this is a Nakabushi (中節/middle fushi) style, which is quite rare. Tsutsu was made later, in the early Edo period by Katagiri Sekishu (片桐石州). 




The characteristic of Sansai’s chashaku are their slim and delicate form. It’s used a particular type of bamboo which is called gomadake (sesame bamboo) from it’s black spots on the surface. At the back of fushi is carved smoothly and the top part, kaisaki is bent back. As there is a crack at the back of the chashaku, this is known as “ketsurisokonai (けつりそこなひ)”, “bad carved”. 




Yoshida Oribe was a warrior as well as a tea master. He inherited Rikyu’s wabi style tea but he was also a bold and free spirits warrior. This chashaku has a ditch above the fushi and was a typical style of Oribe. The tsutsu was made later by a Merchant from Osaka and was a tea master, Itamiya Sofu. 




Motoami Koetsu learnt the tea from Yoshida Oribe. On the surface of the tsutsu, a waka of Fujiwara Ietaka is written by Koetsu.      




This is a gift to Shokado Shojo (松花堂昭乗) when Kobori Enshu had received a calligraphy work from Shojo. The characteristic of this chashaku is a high carving at the back of the fushi and a bog hole in the middle. This scoop is named Seitai (青苔/green moss) after a book, “Ise Monogatari” as the surface reminded people a rock bed of the ocean that appears in the 78th chapter of the book. 



Each one of chashaku is unique and beautiful. I don’t dear to compare which is better and definitely I will contemplate the tea scoops whenever I see them.       








Chashaku no ma:









  1. Beth Parkhurst 3 years Reply

    The scope of what a tea master does amazes me. I have studied ikebana (just as a beginner), and that could take one’s entire life to master. Mastering tea ceremony, calligraphy, flower arranging, and the making of tea bowls must require enormous grace, focus, and discipline.

    • Juju Kurihara 3 years

      Everything we do is a path you build and keep walking. Yes, it could be a lifetime project and yet no one knows if you reach the end, probably no end… 

      I also like the concept of bonsai. They don’t except to see the bonsai’s final form. Still they are taking care of it and pass it on to their children.

  2. Beth Parkhurst 3 years Reply

    So elegant!

    It seems to me that there’s a certain beautiful humility in making one’s own tea ceremony utensils out of bamboo. I may be totally misinterpreting this, of course.

    Thank you for introducing us to this aspect of tea ceremony.

    • Juju Kurihara 3 years

      A tea master makes own tea bowls, writes the calligraphy and arranges the flower. What a totallity one has.  

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