The use of Jikirô in Urasenke

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I have recently found out that in Urasenke the sweets can be also served in a jikirô (a sweet container with a lid). I have particularly never seen that in any chakai or okeiko-ba of Urasenke before; and I’ve experienced (and embarrassed myself) taking the okashi from a jikirô in an Omotesenke chakai. Is there any special occasion or have you had the experience in Urasenke of being served or serving okashi in a jikirô?

  • Marius Frøisland
    Do you have a photo or a link to this item? We do use some boxes, but the name is unfamiliar.
  • fukuda
    Dear Marius, I’ve inserted a picture on the post. I in fact thought of handling it as a fuchidaka, but I was corrected by the teishu. I don’t recall really well how the proper handling was, but it would be good to know it for future occasions.
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Jikiro 食籠 (lit. food basket) are just a type of food container. They come in a variety of forms including lacquerware, not just the oribe style ceramic container originally posted. In the spirit of Rikyū, we should be open to freely employing them in our practice although I would personally restrict their use to omogashi. The procedure is easily adapted from that for the stacked boxes which I have also encountered in okeiko. I should try to find my set of stacked boxes. I used to have a set, but I have not used them for about ten years. So few opportunities for doing so.

  • fukuda
    Dear Barbara, thank you for your observations. Jikirô as you rightly said is a type of container that can be made of different materials and it is strictly for omogashi indeed when it comes to sweets. While in Omotesenke this is a very common kashiki, in Urasenke I’ve personally never seen it being used. In fact, I just ‘realized’ it could be used in Urasenke when I was looking around the utensils in Yamashita by Konnichian last Fall and there was a Jikirô with a Daisôsho box. I’ve also seen some pictures of food in Jikirô for kaiseki on the Tankô magazine, but I was wondering in what situations (and if) we in Urasenke do use it as a sweet container. When I had to take the sweets from the Jikirô my first move was to use it as a fuchidaka stacked boxes, opening a little bit the lid and putting the ohashi inside the bowl and then opening completely the lid – but I was wrong – according to the Omotesenke teishu I should take the ohashi and place it on my kaishi, then open the lid, take the sweet, close it again, place the ohashi on top of the lid and pass it on to the next guest…Well, in sum, my question was just to check if there was a rule of not using it for okashi, or if that was just uncommon but acceptable in Urasenke.
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As a student of Omotesenke I have a couple of observations.

A teishu should never correct a guest unless it is to prevent a disaster. The idea of using the jikiro similar to a fuchidaka is perfectly OK if that is closest to how you were taught so long as you used the hashi as hashi not picks. I once had an Urasenke shokyaku with just two guests so he used it as you would expect and the hashi got used as picks.  Luckily there were only two guests otherwise some guests would have been using their fingers! 🙂

To make matter worse in Omotesenke we use kuromoji hashi that are the same length as the fuchidaka picks. The only difference is that they are slightly thicker.

By the way, the way I usually handle it and teach my students is a little different than the photos above. Either we place the cover back on the jikiro with the hashi on top or, if we pass the cover separately, it is passed separately and before the sweets are taken so only the last guest replaces the cover. This second method would probably work better when there are Urasenke guests don’t you think?

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