Teshoku Handling Between Usucha and Koicha


What are the differences between Usucha and Koicha teshoku (the three legged hand held candle)  handling?  Do the guests always get the teshoku when drinking tea and for haiken? Is there any reason? I am mostly interested in the Urasenke tradition for this but I am always interested in other ways.

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Best Answer

acrasso, since you are using the teshoku, I suppose you are using it during a yobanashi chaij. In Urasenke, the host would give out the teshoku and the koicha to the main guest. The main guest would take both back to his seat. After drinking his/her share, he/she passes the chawan to the second guest. After having received the chawan, the second guest and the main guest would bow together. Then, the main guest would put the teshoku close to the second guest. So forth according the number of guests. The last guest would return the chawan and the teshoku to the main guest for chawan no haiken. The chawan and the teshoku would pass away in similar fashion again. After haiken, the last guest would meet the main guest and return both items to him/her, who would return both to the host.

In the tsuzuki usucha, the host hands out the teshoku only with the haiken items. The main guest takes the teshoku with the haiken items. At the end of haiken, the last guest would return the haiken items to the main guest and put the teshoku at the sadoguchi. When the host returns to the room for haiken questions, he/she would open the fusuma from the mizuya side, take the teshoku from the room to mizuya while still sitting outside, enter the room and talk to the main guest.

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Though I can only answer for Ueda Ryu, I’ll still leave something should it be of help/interest.

In the Ueda Ryu, the standard for yobanashi is:

1 x tankei (oil lamp)

1 x teshoku shared between host and guest

The smaller candle holders are rarely use, if at all, and when used it is usually for a large number of guests to light the kaiseki meal


The teshoku is placed on the alcove prior to the guests entering (two feet to the front, long foot/handle facing the wall of the toko so the flame is further away from the calligraphy/artwork).

The guests use the teshoku for the haiken of the alcove and place the teshoku at the host’s entrance (sadōguchi) when they are finished. The host then opens the sadōguchi and takes the candle into the mizuya. The host enters with the chawan first, then with the kensui and the teshoku together.

The teshoku is place on the kinin-datami, between the hearth and the tankei oil lamp.

The front two feet of the teshoku are brought into the host’s mat closer to the chawan before taking the chasen to prepare the koicha. This helps the host see what they are doing.

The teshoku is placed out with the chawan.

Guests pass the teshoku along after they pass the chawan on.

Teshoku is placed out with the haiken also.



It is optional for the host to move the teshoku closer to the chawan before whisking the tea (in Ueda Ryu the ideal amount of whisks is 30, therefore a lot shorter than Ura and you don’t need to see what you are doing as much as koicha)

The teshoku is place out for guests with both the chawan and haiken


As for “do the guests always get the teshoku when drinking tea and for haiken? Is there any reason? “, yes, the answer is always and the reason is so that the guests can see the tea and dōgu!

With only two light sources in the room, it can get dark in some of the guest positions.


I hope this helps, best wishes, Adam

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It is all a question of giving the guests enough light.

Usually the teshoku is given to the guests while drinking and haiken so they can see what they are doing and see the utensils. The candles and oil lamps should be used with this purpose in mind. The size of the room, number of guests and the intended light level for the occasion would be the important considerations. It is common to supply or remove light sources as needed. It is also important for the guests to use them appropriately assisting each other when necessary.


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