Daisu (台子)

Daisu refers to tea equipment used during tea ceremony procedure, or a kind of a display stand for tea ceremony utensils such as mizusashi (cold water jar). There are a variety of daisu such as shin daisu and take daisu. It is generally used during formal sarei (tea ceremony), and shin daisu is especially used during the ceremonial offering of tea to a Shinto or Buddhist deity. Tea ceremony using shin daisu is the spiritual and theoretical fundamental in the tea ceremony, and is known as the secrets or esoterica, and it's instruction comes last.


Generally the shape of daisu is cuboid, with two rectangular boards supported by posts. The top board is called tenita, and the bottom one is called jiita, which is thicker than the top one. The front posts are called katte bashira (left side) and kyaku bashira (right side), and the rear ones are called kaku bashira (left side) and mukai bashira (right side).

Shin Daisu
Shin daisu is a daisu having four posts of shinnuri (black lacquered), which is considered to be of the highest grade. It is about ninety-one cm wide, forty-two long, and sixty-seven high, which is rather big for daisu, and it would stick out of tatami (straw mat) unless the room has Kyoto-length tatami. Generally kaigu (a set of four matched utensils: mizusashi (freshwater container), shakutate (ladle stand), kensui (waste water container), and futaoki (lid rest)) is matched with the shindaisu.

Take Daisu
It is made of paulownia board, with four posts. Originally planned and created by Juko MURATA, it was the same size as shin daisu, but today the one which is more commonly seen is a smaller one modified for ro (a square box installed into the floor of a tea ceremony room to make a charcoal fire) by SEN no Rikyu.

Kyu Daisu
It has two posts, and is also called kyudai daisu. It is said that the shape of this daisu was modeled after a gate which only successful examinees from one of the historical civil service examination that took place in China could pass through, or a stand used to place the examinee's composition.

Korai Daisu
Among daisu, there are Sotan konomi (favorite) and Enshu konomi, and these two have the same name but their shapes are completely different. Sotan konomi is rather small (67 cm wide and 50 cm high) and varnished with black lacquer; it was modeled after a Chinese table which was brought through the Ryukyuan trade. Enshu konomi is made of wood and not so much daisu as odana (large stand).

Each school has its own favorites. For example, tsumagure daisu (daisu with red lacquered nails), kuwa daisu (made of mulberry wood), and oimatsu daisu (made from old pine) were preferred by those who like shindaisu, while icho daisu (daisu with ginkgo leaf design) was preferred by those who like kyu daisu.

It is generally said that what Jomyo NANPO brought from the Kinzan-ji Temple of Sung was handed to the Daitoku-ji Temple and Tenryu-ji Temple, and together with Noami, Juko MURATA decided the size of daisu and the way of serving tea during the reign of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA. Although it was originally big and one ken (181cm) in width, the size of daisu seems to have been reduced until the late fifteenth century. Daisu were always used in the shoin style tea ceremony, from which various odana, kodana (small stand), nagaita (long board) were generated, and moreover Hakobi temae (the tea ceremony in which essential items for the tea-making are carried into the tea room by the host), which any display stand was not used in, seems to have been invented.

A Technique to Prepare Tea
Although it depends on the school, daisu can be used as a formal stand as well as nagaita. Compared to tea ceremony that use kodana, which is the most common style, there are different ways of handling hishaku (ladle for scooping hot/cold water), futaoki, and kensui. However, it is much simpler than tea ceremony which uses daisu, and is treated as a secret.

The historical material concerning daisu in the tea ceremony first appeared in "Matsuya Kaiki" (Record of the Tea Ceremony at Matsuya) (1537), and then "Tennojiya Kaiki" (Record of the Tea Ceremony at Tennojiya) states that Sotatsu TSUDA (1504-1566) often used daisu. In those days, there was no rule about which utensils were to be used or how to decorate them. However, it soon went out of fashion, and was almost not used by the time the Honnoji Incident occurred.

Later tea books (such as "Sogetsu Sashiwa Shu" and "Teiyoshu") provide an anecdote: Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI allowed only a few number of people (called the Seven Daisu Tea Masters) to learn the tea ceremony that utilized daisu which was reformed by SEN no Rikyu. Although it is not clear if the anecdote is true, it is possible. Above all, the fact that Hideyoshi used daisu in a tea ceremony held at the Imperial Palace in 1585 suggests that this particular event prompted the use of the daisu as something special.

According to historical material (such as "Chanoyu Monjin") which was written when SEN no Sotan was alive, the Senke School (Sotan School) in those days fundamentally distinguished between the daisu in shoin tea room and the daisu in Sukiya (a four-and-a-half-mat tea room). A book of secrets passed down in the various schools of tea ceremony held by samurai families suggests that each school had its own style and way of decoration. For example, "Nanbo Roku" (Nanbo Record) (Nanbo School) includes an illustration called the fifty ways of decorating daisu, and "Izumiso" (Sekishu School) shows the nine steps of decoration which begin with shin, gyo, so (formal, semi-formal, informal), while "Teiyoshu" (Uraku School) mentions four kinds of decoration, shin, gyo, so, and 'ranoki' (random placement).

Rikyu seems to have tried to avoid daisu, and there are only three records concerning Rikyu's use of daisu. Sotan, too, was a pursuer of wabi cha (simple and rustic tea ceremony), and daisu was unnecessary in daily use at the Senke School. It was said that tea ceremony with daisu should only be held on rare ocasions, even in the case of a samurai family's tea ceremony ("Izumiso"). Shigenari FURUTA, Masakazu KOBORI, and Sadamasa KATAGIRI did not hold tea parties using daisu for the shogun, and Enshu had never held tea ceremony using daisu throughout his life ("Summary of Records of the Tea Ceremony by Enshu KOBORI"). Rikyu's avoiding daisu paradoxically might have elevated daisu to the highest grade, and the tea ceremony with daisu might have been gradually placed as a proof of full proficiency in the tea ceremony.

Twelve steps of secrets
The twelve ways of making tea laid forth are called the 'twelve steps of secrets.'
Of them, gyo no gyo are called 'random decoration' or 'midare' (unmatched), and shin no gyo are called 'secrets' or 'shin daisu,' but are relatively known to the public. When these are called 'ten steps,' the two ways mentioned above are excluded.

So no So
So no Gyo
So no Shingyo
So no Shin
Gyo no So
Gyo no Gyo
Gyo no Shinso
Gyo no Shin
Shin no So
Shin no Gyo
Shi no Gyoso
Shin no Shin

Seven Daisu Tea Masters
The tea ceremony with daisu was reformed by Rikyu, and was decided to be kept a secret by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and seven people were sworn to secrecy by Hideyoshi. "Hosokawa Sansai Tea Book" and "Teiyoshu" are the sources of this episode. These seven people overlapped considerably with Rikyu Shichitetsu (seven sages), so they seem to have had something to do with them.

Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI
Ujisato GAMO
Tadaoki (Sansai) HOSOKAWA
Shigekore KIMURA
Ukon (Nanbo) TAKAYAMA
Masatada (Kamon) SETA
Munetsuna (Kenmotsu) SHIBAYAMA

[Original Japanese]