Jun. 18th, 2015

I haven't done a sumi temae (charcoal procedure) in over three years; like many a Midorikai alumnus, I miss it as we make do with electric heating elements under our iron kettles. Combustion isn't allowed in our keikoba, and proper charcoal is expensive and prone to break in shipping—many keikoba in Japan don't use charcoal on a daily basis for these reasons, though at Gakuen one wouldn't think of using anything else.

Gradually that urge to play with fire has been growing, and last month when [blogspot.com profile] fail-better-blog heated the water in the LA tea trailer using charcoal, even if it was just binchōtan, the seduction was complete.

I already have an electric benibachi furo, but it isn't convertible for use with real ash and charcoal. Step one: get a plain furo, ideally in a dōanburo shape for ease of (my) doing and (guests') seeing the ash form. The funny thing is that haigata, or ash formation, was one of my least favorite things to do in Gakuen. I feel like it took me forever to do each one, and I never really got the hang of it—mine looked lopsided, choppy, and overworked. It was a task I approached with anxiety, possibly because I didn't have a chance to practice outside of the evenings I was on duty to do it in preparation for the next day's jitsugi. Or rather, it didn't occur to me that I could make a chance; the men's dorm contained our Midorikai utensils and equipment, including extra furo, so a diligent classmate of mine quietly borrowed one of them and found some ash to practice haigata regularly in his dorm room.

my new iron brazier (tetsuburo 鉄風炉)Back in the present day, I lucked out in finding an inexpensive used iron furo I like in the shape I wanted for sale on ebay. It arrived yesterday. Not having worked with an iron furo that wasn't a tokiwa furo, I brushed up on the differences in things used with an iron furo versus a bronze or ceramic furo. I believe they're limited to using a shikigawara instead of shiki-ita and using a red maegawara instead of a white one. Am I missing anything? I understand that furo made of iron are informal, or sō 草, in the shin-gyō-sō 真行草 scheme, which isn't surprising at all given my taste. I wonder whether that will limit the utensils I can use with it in my toriawase, or whether it can be placed on nagaita or daisu.

Starting with just the items that go in or under the furo, along with charcoal I'll need a shikigawara, ash, gotoku, maegawara, sokogawara, and hōshogami. I've been wondering what the purpose of lining the bottom of the furo with hōshogami is. Is it to cushion the unglazed ceramic sokogawara from the hard surface of the furo? Is it largely symbolic like the hōshogami in hōraikazari, providing a clean, pure base for the things on it?

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radhardened

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