Answering about Natsume, Chashaku, Chaire and Shifuku craftsmen/kiln

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During okeiko, in general, after the haiken, when the guest ask the host about the the natsume/chaki, chashaku, chaire, and shifuku the answers are on ‘automatic mode’, with “Sotetsu”, “Seto”, an iemoto name and “Yuko”. I was wondering if someone knows what would be the appropriate answers when we do not know the name of the artist or the kiln, for instance in a chaji/chakai situation.

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The dialog we are thought during Okeiko should not be used word by word for an actual event. During a event it should be a natural conversation between the guest and the host. This conversation should cover all the topics that we are thought in Okeiko, but not necessary using the same phrasing. Also I would greatly prefer the host and guest to speak a language that they are fluent in. So if both are fluent Japanese speaker, by all means use Japanese otherwise use your native language.

In such a conversation there is no set way of asking the questions or replying them. I think it is the guests responsibility to ask the questions in such a way that the host don’t have to answer “I don’t know.” So instead of asking “What kiln is the chaire?” or “What is the gomei of the chashaku?” I believe that they should ask the host to tell them about the item: “Please tell me about the chaire.” In that case the host can volunteer what he knows about the chaire, and avoid any “embarrassing” moments.

For a event the host should keep in mind when choosing items that the guests will ask about them, and chose items that both visually and story wise fits the theme of the gathering. Even the cheapes okeiko chaire may have a nice story to it. Did your first teacher help you buy it, and using it makes you think of him? Is it the first chaire you ever got? Did you buy the chaire on a trip in which you have a found memory? Think of how people will tell stories about non tea items they own. They will gladly tell you about how they bought it in a market on a rainy day when they visited a particular place.

I also like, as a host, to try to steer the conversation so that the guest will not ask questions about something I have nothing to say. I usually do this by preempting the question. So for instance when they ask me to tell them about the chaire I’ll also say something about the shifuku, hoping that they realize that I have now said everything I know about the shifuku and therefor will not ask more about it.

 

 

 

  • Adam Sōmu
    Great answer, Marius. Native language or a common language is always the best idea. A chakai is not an Opera, there need be sincere, meaningful communication.
  • JOHN LEON LARISSOU
    This is a good answer but we have been taught that there is an order to how the information should be conveyed with the name of the artist coming first out of respect to them and perhaps similar thought given to the remaining.
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