This album of woodblock prints is titled ‘Chanoyu Hibigusa’, and illustrates the daily practice of the Tea Ceremony in Japanese culture. The artist, Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908) was sent to printmaking school by his father when he was just 13 years old to learn the trade of woodblock printing, the most popular publishing style.
Woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e, have been produced in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1867), a time of prosperity for the arts, with colour being added to the prints in the 18th century. They most commonly depict scenes from everyday Japan with Toshikata creating this example as an instructive text book showing scenes of tea activities on a single day. From the hostess selecting the objects in the morning to showing the interior and exterior setting of the tea house, the prints depict the host and guests partaking in and following the distinguished set of rules that made up the tea ceremony, established by tea master Sen no Rikyū in the 14th century, and a tradition still practised today.
Each panel depicts the following:
Panel 1: Introduction and index of the prints decorated with flowers of the four seasons, a pair of scissors and a water container
Panel 2: Examining and selecting utensils for the tea ceremony (Dogu shirabe no zu).
Panel 3: Getting the preparation room ready (Mizuya koshirae no zu)
Panel 4: Calling for guests to come and sit in the tea room, the first sitting (Shoza mukae no zu)
Panel 5: Entering the tearoom- Welcoming guests and inviting them to sit in the tea room. (Seki-iri no zu)
Panel 6: Hostess greeting her guests (Teishu aisatsu no zu)
Panel 7: Preparing the tea ceremony’s formal meal in the kitchen (Ryori kondate no zu)
Panel 8: Replenishing the fire with charcoal (Sumi temae)
Panel 9 : The formal meal served at a tea ceremony (Kaiseki)
Panel 10: Intermission break in a small garden arbour (Nakadachi koshikake)
Panel 11: Arranging flowers (Hana o ikeru) and replacing a hanging scroll with another
Panel 12: Host informs guests of ‘the second entering (Goiri)’ by ringing a gong (dora)
Panel 13: Hanging/removing a bamboo blind (Sudare o toru)
Panel 14: The thick formal tea (koicha) ceremony unfolds in the formal style; the host scooping hot water with a ladle from the iron kettle set in the sunken hearth (Ro), in front of three guests
Panel 15: Move to hiro-ma (larger room) to have weaker tea (Usucha). Guests admire the fine utensils and scroll hanging in the alcove (Tokonoma)
Panel 16: Guests departing and thanking the hostess (Kaeru tokoro)