The ash form, if it can be seen by the Guests, and charcoal are each praised. Furo-chu No Haiken is NOT done during Shozumi on most occasions, unless Tsuzuki-usucha is desired or required, as in Asacha. It is traditionally said that, in the case of the furo, the ash is admired while the charcoal is not, and in the case of the Ro, the charcoal has priority. This is the reason that, in the furo season, guests do not usually ask to take a look at how the charcoal has been laid, but how it has burned.
The manners and prescriptions related to the handling of the ash in Chanoyu might seem to be little connected to the main concerns of the Way of Tea, and to be no more than preparation for the laying of the charcoal. Yet, in the cultivation of a tea practitioner in the Way, the ash is where his or her skill is most obvious.
The Yamanoue Soji Ki 山上宗二 [Notations of Yamanoue Souji or Souni (1544-90)], which relates circumstances as they existed in Rikyu’s day, contains this passage on how the ash should be laid: “The charcoal should be put in with formality; the ash should be put in so that it appears careless.” When furo were all of the kirikake (with kettle sitting directly on furo mouth) or sukigi (the kettle sits directly on furo shoulders on blocks of wood) types, the ash inside them could not be seen, since the kettle would be set directly or almost directly on the furo’s edge. Once the gotoku was conceived and new types of furo were created, however, it was only natural that the manner in which the ash was laid would receive attention, and certain styles would be developed.
At present, there are several ways in which the ash is formed in the furo and only one way in the ro. These have only little relation to the laying of the charcoal but in the furo, part of the temae is a manuever called tsuki o kiru, “cutting the moon.” After the charcoal is laid and before the Ko is put in, the Host brings the Haiki, which has the Haisaji, ash spoon standing up in a small mound of Fujibai that was sprinkled on the haigata earlier, around to the front of the furo, takes the Haisaji and cuts a waxing, dawn moon-shaped section out of the front of the ash form. One explanation is that this shows that this ashform is made just for today’s Guests and can never be used again. Another explanation is that it is this cut that makes the ashform “perfect” in a Wabi sense.
In the Ro season, a Haiki full of Shimeshibai, damp ash is used to cover the bottom of the ro in order to prevent the dry ash from flying up when the charcoal is put in.
The charcoal is a set of pieces laid in a set patern within the furo or Ro, but the main purpose of the charcoal is to boil the water, therefore, perfect adherence to the rules does not guarantee a good fire and boiling water. Students are often told that a charcoal temae that results in a good fire was a good charcoal temae.
Types of Haigata
The basic styles of haigata we see in use today at Urasenke are as follows:
Nimonji oshikiri two straight ridges; pressed and cut
Nimonji kakiage two straight ridges; etched lines
Marubai oshikiri circular ash form; pressed and cut
Marubai kakiage circular ash form; etched lines
Muko-ichimonji mae-tani far-side straight ridge, front valley
Toyama hitotsu-yama single distant mountain
Toyama futatsu-yama double distant mountain
Muko-yama far-side mountain
uroko-bai, or “fish-scale ash formation” used only for a mayuburo for certain Daisu temae
Before doing anything cosmetic to the ash formation, you must check to see if the kettle sits straight and perfectly centered in the ro or Furo.
If not, the gotoku will have to be adjusted. DO NOT RELY ON THE GOTOKU BRING CENTERED TO MEAN THE KAMA WILL BE CENTERED.
The kettle in the ro must sit so that when the hishaku is in place, the handle will cross the black line with one finger’s breadth under it. The kettle will be exactly in the center of the ro, equally distant from the four walls, and absolutely level.
Always use the kogebuchi- hearth protector or remove the Robuchi -hearth frame completely in the ro season, before removing or putting in any burning charcoal at all.
Bring Kama to Mizuya and remove all but a little of the fire in the Furo; all from the ro.
Before going for the kama, put down the kama-sue wood kettle rest or ask someone to put it in the sink or on the drain boards, sunoko, for you.
It is considered a good idea to remove the Furosaki-byobu, furo screen during furo season to prevent any damage to the byobu.
Take the kan from the hako-sumitori and use them to remove the kama. DO NOT EVER USE YOUR HANDS OR A TOWEL FOR THIS, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS OR DOES!
Then take the daijuno, a handled fire pan with a wooden base in your left hand, with a pair of nagahibashi, long metal chopsticks, in you right and a damp towel loosely draped over your left wrist, not on the handle, to thefuro or ro.
Holding the daijuno over the edge of the ro or furo, but NOT resting on it, pick the pieces of burning charcoal out and put them into the daiju carefully, one at a time. Do not drop or toss them in. Starting with the largest pieces, get as much of the burning charcoal out as possible. Stir the ash under the fire to bring up buried bits. Try to keep the edazumi plaster in as large a piece as is possible. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING!
Alternative for ro： Bring daijuno and sokotori scoop to the ro, remove the robuchi and use the sokotori to remove all the ash and burning charcoal from the center of the ash. Nagahibashi are also necessary to gather pieces of charcoal and edazumi into the center. Put the scooped ash and burning embers carefully into the daiju in the mizuya.
Always be ready to put the daijuno down to grab any piece of lit charcoal that escapes your grasp, or falls out of the daijuno, with the towel on your arm.
Do not try to get it with the chopsticks. Always be on the alert for this contingency and keep your attention on what you are doing. Do not talk or answer if you are engaged with the fire. (Say, “Shosho machi kudasai”) and do not disturb anyone who is busy with the fire.
Carefully take the daijuno to the sumi-keshi or hi-keshi tsubo. It helps to hold the nagahibashi under the base to balance its weight.
Be sure and put the lid back on the keshi tsubo very securely.