What is up in a green bamboo futaoki


I have a futaoki that I for years have used a certain way. My futaoki does not have the fushi in the midle of the piece of bamboo. I have always placed it so that the fushi is towards the top. The other day I looked at it and realized that that it is upside down if your thinking of the way the bamboo would have grown. I gave it a try using it this way, but I do not like the way it looks.

What are the rules for this for the different schools?

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Best Answer

If I understand your description correctly, the way you have been using it is correct.  In bamboo futaoki, the cut edge that would have been closer to the root is facing up and the surface on which you rest the hishaku.  If you look closely at bamboo table legs (on tana) you will notice the same thing, that the bamboo is flipped with “root edge” pointing up.   (NOTE: my answers are are for Urasenke school)

  • Elmar
    The main thing that a futa-oki has to do is to provide a concave surface for the hishaku to rest in. So the septum should be concave when looked at from the top.
  • rhondarolf
    Elmar, that is the pracitical reason, but there is actually a deeper reason behind why the bamboo ‘root side’ is always facing up. I imagine it has something to do with Zen/Daoism/Conficuasism/Buddhism or one of the many other influences. I believe it is related to the 4 elements, the roots being in the earth and therefore the earth element facing up.
  • rhondarolf
    I’ve done a bit of research, and have found that the direction is related to yin-yang principals. In essence, the hishaku is cut following the direction of bamboo growth and futaoki is opposite direction of growth to avoid repetition (when hishaku is placed on futaoki) and achieve yin-yang principals. Direct quotes supporting this statement from the article titled “Chadogu – Tea Utensils: Bamboo” on pp 54-59 in Chanoyu quarterly # 14: ***Hishaku: “The node indicates the direction of growth, an important point with regard to yin and yang. … Bamboo in its natural state is a series of containers created by the septum dividing it into individual cells. …. As a liquid container, it [the hishaku] is made so that it conforms with the direction of growth.” (p 55) ***Chashaku: “The scoop [top of chashaku] is made at the “ground” end, as though the chashaku is “growing” out of the tea powder which it transfers from the tea container to the chawan, tea bowl.” (p 55) ***Futaoki: “The piece is cut from the bamboo opposite to the direction of growth, for the cup of the hishaku is rested upon it. Its being inverted thus avoids repetition, and it again manifests yin-yang. Right side up, bamboo is a container, and the futaoki is not a a vessel.” (p 58) Although the CQ article does not specifically say, we can infer that the ‘earth’ side of the tana/tenchaban bamboo legs face up to avoid repetition/contact with the real earth or the bottom jiita (earth board) of the take daisu.
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