How to use the rings on a furo?

Best Answer
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For Urasenke, if there is a kama on the furo, the rings are up. If the kama is off, the rings are lowered. The exact method is described in a ryūrei book published by Tankōsha (not the newest ones, and not the old green covered ones, but a color photo one that also describes a ryūrei chaji).

  • Marius Frøisland
    Do you have a isbn for this book?
  • Philip Hafferty
    The book in particular is 978-4-473-01542-6 However, if you want to save money, or are only interested in sumi-demae and not the ryūrei chaji part of the book, this should have it too based on the picture on the cover (I’ve not looked inside) 978-4-473-00980-7
  • Barbara Nostrand
    Let’s get real about furo rings and mizusahi rings (as in the photo on the cover of the second book). The rings are there to carry the things. Yes, the rings of the furo are up during the temae in the first of the Green textbooks. If you are performing sumi demae, then you are likely to knock the rings down. Consequently, it makes sense to raise them when you are one. However, I think that rings up is an affectation. Maybe it emphasizes the kama being brought in for the benefit of the guest. The business about knots and poison in China is plausible for mizusashi and similar containers, but is less so for kama, and even less so for furo. To add potential complication. The fellow with the furo/kama set in『酒飯論』appears to leave the rings of the kama upright. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/35/Shuhanron_Emaki_by_Kano_Motonobu.jpg/1000px-Shuhanron_Emaki_by_Kano_Motonobu.jpg
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Good Answer
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I suspect the use of this furo will differ widely across traditions. In the Ueda Ryū, this type of furo with kimen (gargoyle heads) and permanent kettle lugs attached to a brass or brass-alloy body is commonly called a ‘daisu-buro’. As the name suggests, we use it with the daisu or which a nagaita.

Here’s how we handle this beautiful piece of dōgu:

  1. Room entering (seki-iri for guests): lugs resting up
  2. Host enters, chawan and tea caddy in front of the mizusashi, kensui to shimo, hibashi to shimo, then lower the kami lug (the lug at shimo stays up)
  3. If you’re not using a shakudate with hibashi (e.g. at an abbreviated nagaita set-up), rest the hiashaku on the futaoki, then lower the kami lug.

i.e. lowering the kami lug is the last movement before fixing your kimono/sitting position and bowing to the guests “dōzo o-raku ni”

4. At the end of the temae, replace the mizusashi lid, hibashi in the shakudate, then raise the kami lug to close the temae.

5. No matter if you’re going to use the dame furo for usucha, we still raise the kettle lug at the end of each temae. Effectively ‘closing’ and ‘opening’ each temae rather than leaving the temae open for the go-iri. In the Ueda Ryū we change rooms for koi and usu anyway, so this problem is almost never encountered.

The us of the daisu-buro can be seen (if you look carefully) in this video: https://youtu.be/pDQqJhoE3_A

There is scattered information on dealing with the kettle lugs in the old manuscripts of the Ueda Ryū. Also Chanoyu to Wa is a good reference for thoughts on dealing with the daisu-buro in manuscripts accredited to Rikyu/his disciples. Could be beneficial to do a search on there.

As this piece of dōgu is one of the earliest to come over from the continent, I imagine there will be a lot of variations of interpretation. I’m looking forward to following this forum!

 

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In Omotesenke the rings seemed to be always up as Elmar says. I say seems because we have always used this kind of furo at our seminars and that is how it has been used. I have never received explicit instruction.

I once watched a demonstration of sumitemae along with kencha done by the Iemoto of Mushanokojisenke. I remember very well that he lowered the rings during this. I believe it was before removing the kettle and then raised them after the kettle was returned. Of course I must add that I am not a student of the school and this was more than twenty years ago.

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As mentioned it depends on the tradition.  As I remember Omote-senke, the rings are aways up.  In Rikyu’s day, the rings were always down until and unless a “noble” entered the tea room, which is when they were raised, and subsequently lowered when he left (source: chanoyu-to-wa blog).

  • Elmar
    Oh, and as John says below, if they are up, they do get lowered when removing the kama to add charcoal, etc., then are raised again when the kama has been returned. So the modern Omote-senke practice seems to assume that everyone coming into the Tea room is “noble” :) .
  • Barbara Nostrand
    Within a Japanese social context, you should always assume that guests are superiors even if they crawl through the nijiriguchi.
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Reaching far back into my memory and not verifying with notes or anything, my Urasenke sensei told me they are always up during temae.  We have never practiced any Ura- temae where we raise/lower as part of the temae.

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The rings on the brazier, and in case of a daisu on the water vessel as well, have their origin in China. In large Chinese mansions or palaces, the dining quarters were situated far away from the kitchens, because the elite wanted to avoid having kitchen smells during diner. Due to this, the food had to be carried quite a distance, and because no-one knew what could happen to the food on the way, plates with movable, bur irremovable rings were developed. Through those rings, and over the lid a silk cord was tied in a very elaborate knot of which only the person who tied it knew how it was done. When the food then arrived in the dining quarters, and the knot was undone or tied in a different way, you knew you should not eat that dish.

In the Enshū school, these rings are up at the beginning of the service, and immediately lowered by the host upon entry before starting the service. This motion indicates to the guests that, in similarity to its original function in China, the host has watched over the items, and everything is ready and without peril. To specify, “Nothing is poisoned.” At the end of the service, after having placed the lid of the cauldron ajar, the host uses his service napkin to upright the rings as an indication that the service has come to an end, and that the objects are no longer in use.

Tyas Sōsen – Instructor in the Way of Tea as taught by the Enshū school.

  • Marius Frøisland
    Are Both rings lowered once the procedure start or only the guest facing side?
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