Types of Honseki Scrolls



Chinese or Japanese Zen calligraphies

Ge (gatha) 偈-explanations of the Buddha and the Dharma
Hou-go 法語- sermons
Inkajo 印可書 – certification of enlightenment experience
Go 号- giving of holy name
Shibun 詩文-letters, poems, etc. of a more secular nature
Shouzo 肖像- portraits of a Zen master, usually given to disciple
Zengo 禅語- more modern form of Zen teaching device
in yokomono 横物 or ichigyo 一行物, nigyo 二行 mono form


usually poetic works, narrative hand scrolls, calligraphy samplers, book forms, etc. of Heian -Kamakura period; mounted as hanging scrolls in Edo or later; gorgeous papers also sutra fragments, kyo-giri etc.; usually cut up scrolls or folding books, a practice begun in Momoyama. Sometimes (later) done on finest colored and decorated papers

Kashu 歌集- poetic compilations
Ro-e shu 郎詠集- poetic collections
Uta awase 歌合- records of poetic competitions
Shakyo 写経- sutra copy
Shinkan 宸翰- Imperial writings
Nikki 日記- diary


from mid-Heian, men used futokoro-gami (breast{water from the eyes-memories wrapped in clothing-the heart} paper) for kanshi then for single (or more) waka, esp. during utakai- poetry contests (from 886) or spontaneous outbursts. Usually white, multi-use paper 45.1-40 cm x 32.1-30 cm. Form set by e. Edo, three lines then last three characters separate, in hentaigana or Man’yogana (kanji used for sound only). Many famous series exist of all the poems written during outing, contest, etc.



from Kamakura, white then later uchigumo kaishi, decorated top and bottom / gold & silver, blue and purple; cut into strips; held up to write on therefore called te-kagami “hand mirror.” From Edo, offered at Sumiyoshi Waka no Kamisama and to Hitomaro



somegami,”dyed paper” from the Tang period, used in Shosoin, collections, in hand rolls and on screens; from Heian as kohitsu , also cut as masu, “box” shaped papers; from Muromachi used like tanzaku and kaishi, with uchigumo, underpaintings, etc. Often used for copying old poems



letters; most expressive of inner nature of writer, informal and off guard; especially desirable for nagori, memorials, etc. Letters from Tea men, poets or monks, or their diaries mounted usually in horizontal format. Depending upon the age and importance of the author, these letters and diaries may be used in the Machiai or the main Tokonoma. For example, the only calligraphy we have of Sen Rikyu’s consists of letters, authentifications of tea objects and diary entries. Mounted as scrolls these command the highest respect among Tea people. Besides Rikyu’s writings, however the writings of cultivated men and women, especially if they contain a poem or some sort of seasonal observation or spiritual content, are considered interesting for their spontaneity and freedom of calligraphy as well. Occasionally, a tea utensil will have a letter connected with it, usually recounting its history or provenance. These make excellent Machiai scrolls when the object in question is used in the tea gathering somewhere. There are a number of letters ordering utensils such as furo braziers, kettles, etc. which whet the imagination and deepen the guest’s appreciation of the thoroughness of the host’s preparations and sharing.


Honseki scrolls

Generally speaking, Zen phrases make up the bulk of scrolls used for the tea room. Earliest Zen scrolls were Song and Kamakura period Chinese records of enlightenment, the bestowal of religious names and titles, and letters of parting given to Japanese monks who returned home. Most all of these are now considered national treasures or important cultural objects. From the Kamakura period, Japanese Zen monks began the practice of single line scrolls, usually five character Zen phrases which are still standard and still being produced in numbers today. This vertical format scroll is called an ichi-gyo mono, 一行物 “one-liner”. There is a horizontal format wherein the characters are written, usually from right to left, called a yoko-mono 横物. From the format and content of the main scroll, the format and content of the Machiai scroll must be determined, so as to produce a feeling of balance, variety and harmony of shapes. Besides the vertical and horizontal format for the main scrolls, there are several fancy formats that make for lighter, more accessible Machiai scrolls. Some different types of scrolls besides paintings feature oval fan and folding fan formats 扇面, square poem cards called shikishi 色紙, and rectangular poem strips called tanzaku 短冊 forms.

As to content, single poems or poem sequences in a vertical format called kaishi 懐紙 are usable for either the Machiai or main Tokonoma, depending upon other utensils and the host’s intent. Simple ink paintings with Chinese poems called kanshi 漢詩, Japanese 31-syllable waka 和歌 or seventeen syllable haiku 俳句 make for multi-faceted scrolls which give both intellectual stimulation and visual pleasure to the waiting area, as well as a historical richness to the Tea experience.

During a Yobanashi (evening chanoyu in the winter), the sky may stay light until 5:30 or 6:00 but inside, it is very dark. For this reason, a candle in a portable candle stand, Te-shoku is provided by the Teishu in the the Tokonoma. This may be used by the Guests to inspect the scroll at closer range, but the Guest holds the strap-leg candle stick with the longest leg toward the wall/ scroll, so as not to get too close and scorch the scroll. This Te-shoku is returned to the Teishu / Sadoguchi by the Tsume, once all have haikened the toko. Also in the room for illumination is an oil lamp.

Occasionally, one will find the timing for scroll and flowers reversed or both scroll and flowers together. This practice is called morokazari.

The only other thing found in the Tokonoma (of large rooms) is the ha-cha tsubo, usually decorating the Tokonoma for a kuchikiri chaji. The Chatsubo is filled with leaf tea particles surrounding paper bags with Koicha particles in them. The mouth of this jar is sealed with paper pasted over the mouth of the jar. Cutting across the mouth of the jar gives rise to the name of this “kuchi kiri” chaji, considered the most significant of chaji. This is because, in the past, one had to own several significant tea jars in which to store one’s Tea, in order to be considered a “proper chajin.”

Scrolls by seasons

This list was taken from : http://teatoys.com/kscroll.html#anchor2950353 (archived version from January 2011)


Phrase – 1 – Shun sui shitaku ni mitsu – 春水滿四澤 – the spring waters fill the shallows in the four directions

Phrase – 2 – Haru kitatte kusa onozukara shouzu – 春来草自生 – when spring comes, the grasses naturally sprout

Phrase – 3 – Shun puu fukuju o shouzu – 春風生福寿 – spring wind gives birth to prosperity and happiness

Phrase – 4 – Risshun dai kishou – 立春大吉 – spring comes with great good fortune

Phrase – 5 – Touka shunpu ni warau OR Touka shunpuu ni emu – 桃花笑春風 – the peach flowers laugh in the spring breeze

Phrase – 6 – Chitou shunsou shouzu – 池塘生春草 – on the banks of the lake spring grasses pop up

Phrase – 7 – Uki harete ten chi haru nari – 雪晴天地晴 – when the snow clears, Heaven and Earth are in spring

Phrase – 8 – Hana hiraite bankoku no haru – 花開萬国春 – when the flowers open, it’s spring in all the world

Phrase – 9 – Rika isshi no haru – 梨花一枝春 – when one branch of pear blossoms it’s spring

Phrase – 10 – Keibai ichida kanbashi – 渓梅一朶香 – march – Valley plum, one branch blossoms, it’s fragrant

Phrase – 11 – Zuiki baika ni mitsu – 瑞気満梅花 – auspicious spirit fills the plum blossoms

Phrase – 12 – Sanka hiraite nishiki ni nitari – 山花開似錦 – when the mountain flowers opens, its like brocade (cherry, azelia, colored leaves, also good in Autumn)

Phrase – 13 – Hana hiraite chou onozukara kitaru – 花開蝶自来 – when the flowers open, the butterflies naturally come

Phrase – 14 – Ikka hiraite tenka no haru – 一花開天下春 – one flower opens, all under heaven is spring

Phrase – 15 – Haru wa sen rin ni iri shosho uguisu – 春入千林処々鴬 – when spring enters the thousand forests, here and there the bush warbler


Phrase – 16 – Natsu wa suzushi san men no kaze OR Ka ryo san men no kaze – 夏涼三面風 – summer is cool wind from three directions

Phrase – 17 -Kaun kiho ooushi – 夏雲多奇峰 – many summer clouds collect around the peak

Phrase – 18 – Kun pu ji nan rai OR Kunpu onozakara minami kara koraisu – 薫風自南来 – the fragrant wind comes from the south

Phrase – 19 – Hobo seifu okosu – 歩歩清風起 – step by step, the pure breeze comes

Phrase – 20 – Seifu shuchiku ugokasu – 清風動脩竹 – the pure breeze moves the bamboo

Phrase – 21 – Seiryuu kandan nashi – 清流無間断 – the pure flow has no gaps or breaks

Phrase – 22 – Suijo seiseitaru midori – 水上青青翠 – fresh and verdant green

Phrase – 23 – Denkaku bi ryou o shouzu – 殿閣生微涼 – the hall gives birth to a faint coolness

Phrase – 24 – Sansui ni seion ari – 山水有清音 – the mountain waters have a pure sound

Phrase – 25 – Kumon no kaze onozukara suzushi – 空門風自涼 – the breeze through the empty gate is cool

Phrase – 26 – Kumo osamatte sangaku aoshi – 雲収山岳青 – the cloud-gathering mountain tops are green

Phrase – 27- Haku un hou chou ni okoru – 白雲起峰頂 – the peaks give rise to white clouds

Phrase – 28 – Kumo yuyu mizu sensen – 雲悠悠水潺潺 – the clouds are majestic and the water babbles

Phrase – 29 – Taki shouka sanzen jyou – 瀧 直下三千丈 – the water falls straight down 3,000 jo (1 jo = 10 feet)

Phrase – 30 – Take yoyo seifu okosu – 竹 葉葉起清風  – bamboo — its leaves create a cool breeze


Phrase – 31 – Shuzan fugetsu kiyoshi – 秋山風月清 – in autumn, the mountains, the wind and the moon are pure

Phrase – 32 – Aki kitatte kusa ni koe ari – 秋来草有声 – when autumn comes, the grasses have a voice

Phrase – 33 – Shuukuu issei no gan – 秋空一声雁 – autumn sky, the sound of a goose

Phrase – 34 – Shuugiku ni kashoku ari – 秋菊有佳色 – the autumn chrysanthemums have an elegant color

Phrase – 35 – Seishu chiku ro fukashi – 清秋竹露深 – pure autumn bamboo dew is deep

Phrase – 36 – Kouyou shunpu ni mau – 紅葉舞秋風 – the colored leaves dance in the autumn wind

Phrase – 37 – Waga kokoro shuu getsu ni nitari – 吾心似秋月 – my heart is like the autumn moon

Phrase – 38 – Seifuu banri no aki – 清風万里秋 – the pure wind 10,000 leagues of autumn (a ri or li is 2.44 miles or 3.9 kilometers)

Phrase – 39 – Tsuki kiyoku senko no aki – 月清千古秋 – the moon is pure as a thousand ancient autumns

Phrase – 40 – Raku-you sansen ni mitsu – 落葉満山川 – fallen leaves fill the mountain stream

Phrase – 41 – Seifu meigetsu o harau – 清風払明月 – the pure wind cleans the bright moon

Phrase – 42 – Mizu o kikusureba tsuki wa te ni ari – 掬水月在手 – scooping up water, the moon is in my hand

Phrase – 43 – Shigure kouyou o arao – 時雨洗紅葉 – sudden showers wash the colored leaves

Phrase – 44 – Meigetsu koho ni noboru – 明月上孤峰 – the bright moon climbs the solitary peak

Phrase – 45 – Fuuyou shimo o hete kurenai nari – 楓葉経霜紅 – the maple leaves, only when touched by frost, turn red


Phrase – 46 – Santou koboku no hana – 三冬枯木花 – after three winters the withered tree flowers

Phrase – 47 – Gin wan ri ni yuki o moru – 銀椀裏盛雪 – pile snow in a silver bowl

Phrase – 48 – Tsuru wa tobu senjyaku no yuki – 鶴飛千尺雪 – cranes fly – a thousand feet of snow

Phrase – 49 – Hitori tsuru kan kou no yuki – 独釣寒江雪 – fishing alone in the cold river snow

Phrase – 50 – Seki setsu yuugei o umeru – 積雪埋幽径 – the piled up snow buries the mysterious path

Phrase – 51 – Kankan rou getsu tsukushite OR Miyo miyo rou getsu tsuku – 看々臘月尽 – in two glances, the last month of the year is over

Phrase – 52 – Setsuri ni kousetsu o miru – 雪裏見高節 – in the snow one can see lofty virtue

Phrase – 53 – Kou rou itten no yuki – 紅炉一点雪 – (above) the red hearth, one flake of snow

Phrase – 54 – Ichirin no soukyou terasu – 一輪霜鏡照 – the frosting mirror is shining

Phrase – 55 – Tou rei koshou hi itsu – 冬嶺孤松秀 – on a winter peak, the lone pine stands out


Phrase – 56 – Mu – 無 – nothingness, emptyness

Phrase – 57 – Wa – 和 – harmony, balance; peace

Phrase – 58 – Juu OR kotobuki – 寿 – longevity, congratulations

Phrase – 59 – Mu OR yume – 夢 – dream

Phrase – 60 – Fuku – 福 – prosperity

Phrase – 61 – Seijaku – 清寂 – purity and tranquility

Phrase – 62 – Koujitsu – 好日 – a good day

Phrase – 63 – Shoufuu OR Matsukaze – 松風 – pine wind

Phrase – 64 – Buji – 無事 – no thing

Phrase – 65 -Zuiun – 瑞雲 – auspicious clouds

Phrase – 66 – Mu ichi motsu OR Mu ichi butsu – 無一物 – no one thing

Phrase – 67 – Kissako – 喫茶去 – drink tea !!

Phrase – 68 – Shuujinkou – 主人公 – a hero (you must be the hero of your own life)

Phrase – 69 – Wa Kei Sei Jaku – 和敬清寂 – harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility

Phrase – 70 – Ichi-go Ichi-e – 一期一会 – one chance in a lifetime

Phrase – 71 – Seizan Ryokusui – 青山緑水 – blue mountains, green waters

Phrase – 72 -Yanagi wa midori, hana wa kurenai – 柳緑花紅 – the willows are green and the flowers are red

Phrase – 73 – Matsu ni kokon no iro nashi – 松無古今色 – the pine has no old or new color

Phrase – 74 – Shou ju sen nen no midori – 松樹千年翠 – the pine tree a thousand years green

Phrase – 75 – Kanza shou fu o kiku – 閑坐聴松風 – sitting leisurely listening to the pine wind

Phrase – 76 – Haku tsuru oimatsu ni mau – 白鶴舞老松 – the white cranes dance in the old pine

Phrase – 77 – Saihou tanshou ni mau – 彩鳳舞丹霄 – the colored phoenix dances in the red sky

Phrase – 78 – Fukujukai mu ryou – 福寿海無量 – the ocean of prosperity is unfathomable

Phrase – 79 – Zuiun koudou ni mitsuru – 瑞雲満高堂 – the auspicious clouds fill the high hall

Phrase – 80 – Juzan ban jou takashi – 寿山万丈高 – the mountain of happiness is 10,000 jo tall (1 jo =10 feet)

Phrase – 81 – Honrai mu ichi butsu OR Honrai mu ichi motsu – 本来無一物 – originally there was no one thing

Phrase – 82 – Hibi kore kojitsu OR Nichi nichi kore kojitsu – 日々是好日 – every day is a good day

Phrase – 83 – Take ni jyouge no fushi ari – 竹有上下節 – the bamboo has nodes above and below

Phrase – 84 – Buji kore kijin OR Buji kore kinin – 無事是貴人 – to a man of satori nothing happens

Phrase – 85 – Seiza ichimi no tomo – 清坐一味友 – purely sitting, one taste of friendship

Phrase – 86 – Heiya shizuka ni shite sami kiyoshi OR Shitsu kan ni shite chami sugashi – 室閑茶味清 – resting in your room, the tea flavor is pure

Phrase – 87 – Hakkei nao migakubeshi – 白珪尚可磨 – you must always polish the white jewel

Phrase – 88 – Kokoro shizuka ni shite chami kanbashi – 心静茶味香 – when your mind is at rest the tea flavor is fragrant

Phrase – 89 – Haku un yuuseki o idaku – 白雲抱幽石 – the white clouds embrace the mysterious stone

Phrase – 90 – Tsuru wa mau sen nen no matsu – 鶴舞千年松 – the cranes dance in the thousand year pine

Phrase – 91- Hana o rousureba kaori koromo ni mitsu – 弄花香満衣 – when you play with flowers, fragrance fills your sleeves

Phrase – 92 – Wa ki hounen no kizashi – 和気兆豊年 – spirit of peace augurs a rich year

Phrase – 93 – Kougetsu terashi shoufu fuku – 江月照松風吹 – river moon shines, pine wind blows

Phrase – 94 – Mei rekireki ro doudou – 明歴々露堂々 – everything bright and clear, everything open

Phrase – 95 – Ichi jitsu no seikan ichi jitsu no fuku – 一日清閑一日福 – for every day of pure relaxation, (you get) one day of prosperity

Phrase – 96 – Hanashi tsukusu san’un kai getsu no jou – 話尽山雲海月情 – when talk is exhasted the mountains and clouds, the ocean and the moon are sympathetic

Phrase – 97 – Gyofu no shougai take ikkan – 漁夫生涯竹一竿 – the fisherman’s life, one bamboo pole

Phrase – 98 – Enzan mugen heki sousou OR Enzan kagirinaki heki sousou – 遠山無限碧層層 – over the distant mountains, limitless blue sky

Phrase – 99 – Take  (kimi-ga-tame ni) youyou seifu okosu – 竹  葉葉起清風 – bamboo – (for you) the leaves create a pure breeze

Phrase – 100 – Kan  nan boku touzai katsuro ni tsuuzu – 関 南北東西活路通 – the barrier: south, north, east, and west, all roads pass through