Chaji – Nakadachi

Nakadachi is a break in the Chaji. Chaji can be divided in to two parts. First Seki: Shozumi, Kaiseki and Sweets. Second Seki: Koicha, Gozumi and Usucha. In between is the Nakadachi.

If you have two Koshikake you would use the inner for nakadachi.


After the guests have eaten the sweets, in whatever form the Host decides to present them, the Guests are asked to retire to the Koshikake machiai. This is done to allow the Host a chance to prepare the room for the second half of the chaji. Teishu will clean the Tatami, check the charcoal fire, add incense and replace the (Zen) scroll with the Chabana, putt out the Mizusashi full of fresh and cool water, and then placing the thick tea container (Chaire), in its pouch, in front of the mizusashi.

Before entering the tea-room the guests use Tsukubai to purifye their hands.

Teishu / Hanto

Long before sending the Guests out however, the Host must be sure the roji path and koshikake are ready for them. At least, the tabako bon charcoal must be replenished. The roji, from the nijiriguchi back to the koshikake, should be checked and resprinkled. A pair of Rojizori, straw sandals or geta, wooden clogs should be prepared for the first Guest, on the kutsunugi ishi stone outside the door. If it should have started to rain or snow, Roji Gesa, rain hats must also be placed out and the zori replaced with geta. In autumn, a few beautiful freshly fallen leaves may be left (within reason) but dead leaves, spiders and webs should always be removed.

Once the guests have left the tearoom, the Host opens the nijiriguchi and windows to clean and air out the room. Then the Host rolls up the scroll, sweeps, and wipes the floors.

The Host checks the fire and hot water, adding incense. First consideration is always that the kettle be boiling during the making of tea and still making noise when the guests leave. If the fire is burning normally, LEAVE IT ALONE. If there is a problem, fix it.

After hanging the hanaire or placing the flower board and Hanaire in the toko, the Host brings out the flowers and kirifuki, atomizer or chasen in water. The Host does the Chabana and shooshes them with water.

Then the Host puts out the mizusashi and chaire.

While the Host is doing Sumi (in Furo) or offering pickles and oyu (in ro) the Hanto, if there is one, should be preparing for nakadachi. If there is no hanto, the Host must do these during Teishu Shoban:

Go check on kosuimono, Hassun, ko no mono and sweet
Sumi in the Tabako bon at Koshikake must be replenished.
The Roji, from the nijiriguchi back to the koshikake, should be checked and sprinkled.
A pair of rojizori or geta should be prepared for the first guest, on the kutsunugi ishi
If it should have started to rain or snow, roji gasa must also be placed out and the zori replaced with geta.
After final cleaning, in autumn, a few freshly fallen leaves should be left (within reason) but spiders and webs should always be removed.
Chaire, koicha chawan, and kensui/futaoki should be prepared; chawan (warmed if it’s cold) towards end of kaiseki.
Prepare Gozumi if Tsuzukiusucha is not required; if optional always prepare for gozumi.
Usuchawan and Higashi, Tabako bon (usually machiai t.b.) prepared. Usuki from first (if tana)
Once the guests have left the tearoom

Lock nijiriguchi, or open it to clean and air, but lock toward end of preps; don’t forget to open again after dora/ kansho
Close the Kama lid. Check fire but don’t touch if everything is normal
In both ro and furo season when tsuzuki-usu is to be done, add sumi fully and check hot water level. Add incense. First consideration is that the kettle be boiling during the making of tea and still making noise when the guests leave
Open all windows to air out seki. Add incense after windows are closed
Roll up scroll.
Sweep carefully so guests can hear is ok; zokin starting from toko
Hang hanaire or place board and hanaire
Bring out flowers and kirifuki or chasen in water
Do flowers and shoosh. Dry toko floor if necessary
Put out mizusashi (if no tana) and chaire
Ring dora or kansho to alert guests that the seki is ready
Open nijiriguchi
Open kettle lid
Dealing with sudare-

if single Teishu with no help, roll up before guests are called
if hanto visible, etc. roll up after futaoki; roll half way then lift off; start kamiza and work down [I don’t really like this but…]

O-NARIMONO 鳴り物 Calling the Guests Back

Ringing pattern: Dai sho chu chu dai (Big, small, medium, medium, big)

When all is ready the Host calls the Guests back into the tearoom by ringing a gong, 銅羅 Dora or a bell called a 喚鉦 Kansho in the evening, to alert guests that the seki is ready. This use of signs and signals is a deliberate Zen influence, found throughout the chaji and indeed throughout Tea. It avoids the duplication of actions already done, the ambiguities of speech and the undignified solution of shouting, “Come on back. Everything’s ready.”

At a noon gathering the Host uses a gong, whose deep resonance balances the brightness of day with the darker reverberations that are considered IN (Yin).

All during the break, the Guests are relaxing their legs, talking quietly about the chaji or even regaling each other with stories of their own chaji. In general, the conversation is a bit more lively outside the tearoom than in. Tabako should be provided at this if no other time so those addicted to tobacco can enjoy themselves here. On especially elegant occasions, brushes, ink and paper will be provided for the poetic inspiration of the Guests.

Hearing the gong, all Guests squat down in front of their seats in the koshikake machiai, the semi-enclosed arbor in the garden. This is said to be the position assumed by Zen novices when they are called into their interviews with their Master. Zen people tell me that nowadays, the Master uses a metal horse rattle (like the lidrest called an ekirei ) to mean “Come in,” and the gong to indicate that the interview is over.

If the Shokyaku is someone of great esteem, the Host may leave the last strike unsounded and go out once more to greet the Guests silently and thereby invite them back into the teahouse.

The gong is just the signal that the Host is ready; it does not mean that the Guests must rush back inside. In fact it is proper only from now that the Guests use the setchin / setsu’in (dry sandbox toilet), so they are not compromised when the gong sounds, but such subtleties of etiquette are rarely observed nowadays.

When the gong is finished, Guests return to their seats, go to the toilet, or just take in the beautiful scenery of the roji until the Shokyaku is ready to return to the tearoom.

When Tea takes place at night, such as during the winter when the yobanashi chaji is most enjoyable, a different soundmaker is used, the Kansho or bell.

There are alternative soundmakers known to history, one of them being Japanese drums but once a daimyo’s retainers were fooled by a drum performance signaling seki iri, so that they all swarmed to the castle thinking something dreadful had happened. This kind of cry wolf was frowned upon severely. When I once held a New Year’s gathering, the sound of the next door shrine’s bell was interpreted as one of my innovations and the Guests all came back to the teahouse before I was ready for them! I think if one does do something interesting, it should immediately be followed by the proper ringing, even just a single strike or the Host should go out again.

The Host opens the nijiriguchi door and the kettle lid on the way back to the mizuya, preparation area to wait for the Guests return.

Entering the tea room, the Guest firsts sees the flower. In contrast to all other, man-made utensils, the flowers bring into the tearoom a feeling of naturalness, a seperation from the outside world of burning dust, an escape to deep mountains or forest fastness, as the essence of Nature. Considered further, the chabana represent the freshness of dew which itself represents the openness of enlightenment as well as the evanescence of life, the beauty of “only now.” In replacing the Zen words of the previous scroll, these flowers become the Host’s heart/mind, and his answer to the koan of the words. We should be reminded of the smile of Kashyapa when the Buddha twisted a flower in his fingers. On many levels, the chabana leave a big impression.

When the Guests have returned to the tearoom, they look at the flowers in the tokonoma, the fire and boiling kettle, and the thick tea container (chaire) in its pouch standing in front of the mizusashi (fresh water container). Once all the Guests have entered and seated themselves, the Host begins the process of making the thick tea which is the reason for the whole enterprise itself.

Next: Koicha