Ancestral to kaiseki are

the 本膳 honzen ryori of the court and
the 精進 shojin meals of the Zen monastery.
Every major culture develops its own sense of and setting for hospitality. From earliest “civilized” times, Japanese have eaten their food from ceramic and lacquer utensils. In 15th century Japan, when Tea began to make its way deeper into the lives of different classes, Tea masters had a variety of modes of hospitality and cuisine styles to choose from in creating what became the hospitality of Chanoyu.

The cuisine for Chanoyu is known by many as kaiseki ryori. A confusion of same sounding word usage in Japanese demands a division into cha kaiseki ( 壊石), as practiced in Tea, and ryoriya kaiseki (会席), as it is served in restaurants. Basically speaking, restaurant kaiseki developed in the Edo period to drink sake with, while cha kaiseki, evolving from the Muromachi, revolves around eating rice and a few delicacies in preparation for drinking thick tea. Cha kaiseki represents the blending of two major streams of cuisine known to 16th century warrior aristocracy, the honzen ryori of the Imperial court and the shojin or vegetarian cuisine of the Zen Buddhist temples. Shoujin Ryori 精進

We must imagine that shojin ryori came to Japan with the earliest importation of Buddhism in the 6th century and that its influence is seminal to all aspects of Japanese high cuisine. The words used to describe this cuisine mean “advancing the spirit.” Originally, in keeping with Buddhist precepts, not only was the meat of any living creature avoided, but strongly flavored vegetables, such as onions and garlic were also eschewed. The reliance on a limited variety of ingredients to provide necessary nutrition in turn required a greater ingenuity in the variety of treatments than was called for in other Japanese cuisine.

Within shojin ryori, there is are two styles of serving, one used on special feast days only, the other being the daily meals of the monks. Also, in keeping with the variety of teaching styles between Rinzai and Soto, there are also some differences in the serving and philosophy of food.

A formal shojin meal uses three trays with often three soups and seven side dishes, plus rice and pickles. The utensils used for serving the food are entirely of cinnabar lacquer and are called kagu (家具) as a group. The set consists ofÅF zen 膳- trays, hanwan 板椀- flaring rimmed rice bowls and lids, shiruwan 汁椀- flaring rimmed soup bowls and lids, chatsu - plate, choku - small unlidded cup, hirawan 平椀- lidded wide shallow bowls, tsubo 壷- deep lidded bowls, hanki 板器- lidded rice container, shamoji 杓文字- rice paddle, shakushi 杓子- scoop, yutsugi湯次- bentwood pitcher, saketsugi 酒次- sake pourer, and sake cups.

The meals which the monks eat daily is entirely different, reflecting the frugal worldly indifference of those engaged in ridding themselves of their bonds to the fleshly pleasures. Each monk is expected to have a set of four nested bowls, known as yotsuwan 四つ椀 for Rinzai Zen, five bowls known as ouryoki 御料器 for Soto Zen in which the daily meals are served. These are arranged on a folding lacquered piece of paper called an oshiki 押敷, “sheeted under.”

Honzen Ryori

Originating in the Court feasts of the Heian period, which in turn were imported from the Tang court in China, reflections of the food offerings from the sea and from the land to the various gods enhanced by the practices of the Buddhist vegetarian tradition, the honzen style of cuisine in the Muromachi period was a complicated style of eating, also adopted by the semi-aristocratic warrior class. A very elaborate and formalized style of presentation and of eating, with up to 7 trays of food, a goodly number of which were truly for decoration only, it was eventually simplified into the present day ceremonial banquet served at traditional weddings, matsuri and funerals, generally limited nowadays to three trays, holding two soups and five to seven side dishes. There are numerous variations on the numbers of trays and dishes served but generally speaking, the first tray or honzen contains rice, soup, pickles, namasu- a dish of vinegared fish and/or vegetables, and the tsubo- a deep, covered bowl used for poached things in broth or vegetables dressed with a sauce. The honzen may also include a mukozume- a ceramic dish with a full fish on it, a choku- an unlidded, smaller lacquer bowl used variously for dressed vegetables, pickles, or sometimes for sake. The second tray, known simply as ninozen, has the second soup, the hirawan- a wide, flat, covered bowl usually holding a course of delicately poached ingredients, and perhaps a choku, if it hasn’t been used elsewhere. Besides these two, a third tray may hold the grilled fish or be loaded with small delicacies. A totally different type of tray is used for the hanki, rice serving box and its scoop. There is often one of these sets per five guests.

Let us take a brief look at the utensils used in honzen ryori today. First of course are the trays, called zen. There are many types and styles, from the most elaborately lacquered and inlaid ones to plain black lacquer, but the main feature is the feet that raise the o-zen off the tatami. Bowls used include the rice and soup bowls and lids, the hira, tsubo, and choku types of wan; a rice box, rice scoop and tray; serving trays and hot water pitchers and ladles. All of these share a design or shape, and are either lacquered black or have a motif painted in gold or colored lacquers. Cha Kaiseki its courses and utensils

Sen Rikyu is given credit for making one soup, three side dishes the ruling principle of food for Chanoyu. Records show that sometimes Rikyu was even more frugal, sometime more elaborate. At any rate, the standard, noon scheme of kaiseki which has come down to us today consists of the following courses, eaten in this specific order

a flat tray with rice, soup (usually miso), chopsticks, and a dish often of raw fish called the mukozuke
a serving of sake before the raw fish is eaten.
refills of rice, from a rice box passed round, and soup, refilled from the kitchen
the main dish called the nimonowan or wan mori
a second serving of sake
yakimono, a plate of grilled fish, passed round
a second serving of the rice box and, optionally several other dishes called azukebachi , may be passed round; also additional sake may be served in tokkuri, sake bottles with ceramic sake cups. While the guests are eating and drinking all this, the Host has a chance to eat also, in the back, so he or she can keep working and to prepare their stomach to drink sake with each one of the guests.
a small soup kosuimono, or hashiarai, “chopstick wash”
a wooden tray, the hassun from which the Host serves sake and bounty from the ocean and bounty from the mountains
finally hot water in a lacquered bent wood pitcher and pickled vegetables in a ceramic dish, round off the meal. A sweet follows which is not considered part of the kaiseki.
The utensils used to serve the kaiseki are a combination of a set of lacquer known as kaiseki kagu and various ceramics. Historically, kaiseki lacquer developed from the utensils used in both shojin and honzen ryori. Kaiseki utensil sets favored by Rikyu number three or more and they reflect their lineage by using four bowls on the initial tray, with no ceramics. Rikyu was very deeply devoted to Zen and its lifestyle while also being deeply involved in the politics and domestic side of the warrior aristocracts Nobunaga and Hideyoshi’s privare life. There exist several sets of Rikyu’s style of kaiseki wares that are different from the purely cinnabar lacquer of the temples. They areÅF cinnabar with black interior; two sets which are pure black lacquer with flattened outline and rounded outline; a set with Yoshino-e, black lacquer with red design of flower on all the utensils, etc.

Later sets up to the time of Fukensai follow the same pattern. It is only with him, the ninth generation (1746-1801) that we find kagu exclusively for kaiseki more as it is used today. The set contains trays, hanwan and shiruwan, hanki and shakushi, saimori wan (same as nimono wan), suimono wan, jubako (a two-layered box used for the grilled course and pickles, instead of the two different ceramics used today), hassun, yu-oke and bent yunoko-sukui, round kayoi bon, rectangular yu bon, bentwood sake-tsugi, haidai, and kashi wan (for sweets). All the pieces are done in either itome (lathed thread groove) or hegime (split wood) surface, with clear brown lacquer on on the outside and black lacquer on the inside.

The modern kaiseki kagu consists of three parts. One is the eating utensilsÅF five sets each of trays, called o-zen or oshiki ; yotsuwan- four bowls, consisting of the rice and soup bowl and their lids; nimonwan and their lids; and kosuimono, small soup bowls and lids.

For serving there are two rectangular serving trays, kayoi bon; one round serving tray, marubon; a rice box, hanki and scoop, shamoji, a bentwood pitcher for the final hot water and its scoop, yu-oke and yunoko-sukui . These are usually all of a type, most commonly black lacquered, and come boxed as a set.

The third part consists of a set of five red lacquer sake saucers, hikihai and a black stand for the stack of hikihai, called a haidai.

Also essential, but separate, is the hasssun bon, a red cedar wood tray which should be new for every chaji, red cedar eating chopsticks called Rikyu-bashi, and the green bamboo chopsticks used to serve the dishes, which should also be new each time.

Ryori-ya Kaiseki

One explanation has it that when, during the second half of the Edo period, tea houses and ryokan in the pleasure quarter started serving sake and food to go with it, they used the same words “kaiseki” to describe the cuisine, using the Chinese characters (会席) for “meeting place.” In order to prevent any misunderstanding, Tea people of the time began using the more esoteric Zen characters (壊石) for “breast stone,” in reference to the monks’ use of warmed stones to sooth the pangs of hunger. Combining the best parts of honzen and cha kaiseki, ryori-ya kaiseki is extravagant like honzen and fresh from the kitchen like chakaiseki, but without the rules, purpose, or social considerations that guide the other two. The rules that guide ryori kaiseki are the freest, yet there is a definite pattern of courses. It is basically:

sake, often in ceramic sakazuki from tokkuri, served all through the meal
a tray with chopsticks, a pre-drink appetizer and a plate of hors d’ouvers
suimono, a simple soup, usually clear stock
sashimi, raw fish
yakimono, grilled fish
nimono, poached, usually vegetables (different from nimonowan of kaiseki
agemono, something deep-fried, often tempura
mushimono, something steamed
sunomono, something vinegared, usually a fish and vegetable combination
tomewan-often miso
konomono, pickles
kudamono, fruit
kashi, dessert, usually Japanese style
The lacquer used in restaurant kaiseki may be as limited or as luxurious as the individual establishment desires.

Early sources (Namporoku, kaiki) confirm Rikyu’s frugal ideal of ichiju sansai 一汁三菜- “one soup and three dishes.” Nevertheless, a look at the records of his tea gatherings reveal a pattern of: One tray

1 soup 1 sai-1 time
1 soup 2 sai-44
1 soup 3 sai-32
1 soup 4 sai-2 (Honganji monju, Hideyoshi)
1 soup 5 sai-1 (Hideyoshi)
2 soup 2 sai-3
2 soup 3 sai-2 (both Hideyoshi)
2 sai-2
Two trays- 4 (Hideyoshi; others)
Ingredients used by Rikyu were things he could get in Kyoto. They includeÅF Soups

misoyaki- 16
gan (goose), na (veg)- 12
natto- 10
hakucho (swan)- 8
tara (cod), kaki (oyster)- 5 ea
kotori (small birds), hiratake mushrooms; kuki(stems)- 3 ea
fugu, tai, kamo (duck)- 2 ea
tsuru (crane), atsume-jiru, tataki, koi, kiji (pheasant)- 1 ea

sake (salmon)-27;
tai (bream), konowata (guts)- 22;
koi (carp)-21;
awabi (abalone)- 18;
kurome (type of fish)- 16;
kamaboko (“fish cake”)-11;
kotori (small birds)- 6;
funa (wild carp), gobo, unagi
(eel)-4 ea;
shiitake (mushroom), yuzumiso (citrus full of miso,steamed or grilled); gan (goose), sazae (sea snail)- 3 ea;
Fu (wheat gluten), hato (dove/pigeon), “fuhichini”, managatsuo (butterfish), namagai (raw shellfish), uzura (quail)- 2 ea;
ayu (sweet river fish), nabeyaki (now udon cooked in clay pot), hishiko iwashi (sardines), horomiso, “taharako”, “mizuahe” yaki miso (miso smeared on panlid and grilled), hibari (skylark)-1 ea
Menu considerations

five colors-blue/green; yellow; red; white; black/purple These are appreciated mostly in mind as cannot see in yin dark tearoom during first half of asacha or shogo; much less in dark yobanashi
five flavors- amai/sweet; suppai/sour; shiokarai/salty; nigai/bitter; karai/hot
styles of preparation- raw; broiled; boiled; stewed; steamed; salted; pickled; dried
Gohan- the basis of chakaiseki

1) Ichimonji, character “one” in bowl, 2) hanki-rice box twice, 3) yu no ko and hot water in yusugi; taste four different conditions of doneness. White rice only; other mixed rices fun for chakai, or used in ricebox only; but always have white rice available. Okayu used in asacha.

Chahan-gama based on fixing rice in front of guests.

Ichimonji 一文字 - The first taste of rice in meal. Shaped like “ichi” triangular in cross-section. Not fully cooked, just before steam-resting, but very soft and still wet. Taken from edge of kama as that should be more cooked. Shows that host waited until just perfect time to start or not done in advance and sitting around. Used at Urasenke; other traditions use other shapes.

Hanki 飯器 , rice box-served twice. After sake, muko can be eaten but also refills of soup and rice are offered. First hanki has one rather definite scoop per person. The rice is still a bit soft, not completely steam-rested, but different from ichimonji. Guests should be careful to take their share only. The hanki goes back empty.

Second hanki goes out just before teishu shoban. It contains “all” the remaining rice so everyone can take as much or as little as they like. The rice this time is fully done and chewy. Rice may be returned. The rice which remains stuck to the kama is browned, naturally or the fire may be turned up to get a nice fragrance and color. Do not overcook. This o-koge is essential for the final oyu and pickles course-cf. plus

Shiru 汁 soup

1.Stocks: dashi: kombu, katsuo

miso 味噌 - white- shiro miso, red-aka m; mixed- awase white in winter, red in summer, blend autumn/spring with higher proportion of white miso nearing winter
others: natto 納豆, Daitokuji natto, sakekasu (lees) 酒粕, tororo (grated mt.potato), clear (strained miso); grated turnip / radish mizore 霙
shojin (veg) 精進- kombu, shiitake, soy beans (parched), kampyo 干瓢 (dry gourd shavings)
2. gu 具- seasonal veg., “tofu” types: soy, peas, walnut, sesame, lotus, etc (puréed main ingredient set with dashi and kuzu-starch)

3. yakumi 薬味-usually mustard (karashi); also sansho, fukinoto, sesame

50-70cc of liquid, 1/3 of gu is not covered by soup. The soup needs to be served hot, done at the last minute, as not to overcook the miso, changing its taste.

Sake 酒

Served in kannabe 燗鍋 or choshi 銚子-main sake; iron, pewter, silver, gold, ceramic. Warm / oyu ea. time; empty leftover sake each time. Do not boil the sake, or even heat it too much.

If change brands – change utensil, eg. change lids of iron for ceramic or,during Teishu shoban, use tokkuri and guinomi. Usually should be served warm for three main servings-muko, yakimono, and hassun. When served as azukedokkuri, depending on sake type and weather, may be served cool.

Mukozuke 向付

literally “attached over there”

MUKOZUKE: something to go with sake; course and utensil, utensil chilled if cold; shikimono, coaster or something under if hot Can be served before the sake, but must not be touched before the sake is served.
main ingredient

Raw fish
fresh water-ayu (not so safe nor tasty); carp
ocean- mainly
shellfish-bivalve and univalve
lobster, shrimp, crab- arthropod
sea cucumber, hoya, other invertibrates
preparation methods:

arai 洗-cut live, plunged into ice water-eg koi, suzuki, lobster
hirazukuri 平造 (flat slice)
kirikasane 切重 (cut and stacked)
kasane-zukuri (layered)
kaku-zuk.角造, sainome 賽の目(cubed)
hegi-z .(split off), sogi-z. 削 (shaved off)
usu-z. 薄 fugu-z.(thinly sliced)
ito-z. 糸 (thread), hoso 細-z.
koguchi-z. (cross cut)- lobster
kanoko-z. 鹿子, karakusa-z. 唐草 (decorative)- ark shell
cho (butterfly)-z. 蝶- awabi/abalone
butsugiri (chopped off/ through) 打つ切り- octop., etc.
tataki (tartare) 叩き-katsuo, aji, blue fish
Not completely raw fish-

dried 干し sometimes lightly grilled 炙り
heat added
kawa shimo z.皮霜 -bonito, blanch just skin-deep
hamo otoshi 鱧落とし- cutbone, blanch thin cut slices,
yuarai 湯洗い- octopus; hot water blanch
yubiki 湯引き- hot water poured over
shimofuri 霜降り- blanched just enough to turn white outside
yakishimo- 焼き霜 flash grilled
cold methodsÅF
mabushi (coated / eg. fish, crab eggs, egg yolk, tofu lees)
kombujime 昆布締め (wrapped in konbu)
ceviche – su zuke 酢漬 (soaked in citrus juices) (SOAKED IN VINEGAR NOT CITRUS)
kamishio 紙塩- paper salted (COVERED WITH PAPER, WHICH IS THEN SALTED)

Vegetarian and prepared dishes aemono 和え物- raw &/or cook > cool; cut to same size, dry, mix with “dressing” just before serving; veg., shellfish, konyaku, etc.


goma 胡麻-parch sesame slightly, grind coarse > fine paste; thin with citrus, dashi; mix / ingredients; other seeds- egoma
also goma-su, goma-su-karashi, goma-karashi-su-miso, etc.

shira-ae 白和えÅF tofu- drain, grind, mix with goma-su-miso-karashi>
miso 味噌- plain white, su 酢味噌 (citrus柚子溝), mustard, mix /
kinome 木の芽和え- fresh sansho leaves, flowers; thinned / other greens-spinach, tade 蓼
tororo とろろ- grated yamaimo 山芋
nuts/ seeds木の実和え- kurumi 胡桃- walnuts, peanut, sesami, etc. smooth or chunky
bainiku 梅肉- salted plum
edamame, green peas, etc.
oroshi 降ろし- daikon, daikon/wasabi, lotus root
mabushi-crumbled egg yolk; small fish eggs-cavier, karasumi, kazunoko
Grilled-eg. yamaimo, nasu, dengaku 田楽
Boiled -eg. kabocha, takenoko 筍
Miso sauce-eg. furofuki daikon, kabu 風炉吹き大根、蕪
Otherwise prepared-eg. agedashi 揚げ出し豆腐-deep fried tofu in dashi
“Tofu” of various kinds-eg. gomadofu 胡麻豆腐 or mame, lotus root 蓮根, kurumi; kuzuyose
Steamed-tamago-dofu, chawan mushi 茶わん蒸し, kaburamushi 蕪蒸し
Accompaniments 妻 Tsuma- used to help cover raw smell, balance flavors, colors and textures; always vegetable; act as anti-bacterial, preservative typesÅF

okizuma 置き妻-pillow, too common, rarely used in chakaiseki
kazarizuma 荘妻  also tatezuma立て or maezuma 前- decoration in front
kaishiki or shikizuma 敷き妻- under main ingr.

benitade 紅蓼 *(POLYGONUM HYDROPIPER),WATERPEPPER SPROUTS* akame- dark red, spicy hot, too commonly used; no season
aome; murame=mejiso 芽紫蘇- young shiso sprouts, green or purple; summer
ejiso, hanajiso 花紫蘇- shiso flower stalks, summer
(hama)bofu *浜防風(GLEHNIA LITTORALIS)*- red stem trefoil; hot spicy; only stems used; curled; spring-summer
hanatsukikyûri* 花付き胡瓜- very young cucumber/ flower attached; summer; don’t wash or handle too much; squash flowers
suisen 水仙-narcissus; shunran 春蘭- spring orchid -flowers can be used if blanched (not ebine,which is poison) spring
mekanso 芽甘草- *(Glycyrrhiza uralensis CHINESE LIQUORICE SHOOTS AND NOT)* day lily shoots, less than 3-4cm.; blanch, peel; spring
chisha no to 苣のとう- stalk of red lettuce; peeled, eaten raw or pickled in saikyô-miso; winter-spring
fuki no to 蕗のと- flower head of coltsfoot; bitter-needs treatment; winter-spring
tsukushi 土筆- (Equisetum arvense) sprouts of scouring rush; parboil, peel; spring
sawarabi 早蕨- (Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum) fern head; parboil in haijiru (ash water),rinse well; mid-spring
kaya no mi 茅の実- (Torreya nucifera) torreya nut; grill, break out- autumn thru winter
kaiso- many kinds, colors, textures; Tosa nori-red, green, white; sango nori-green; ito nori; hijiki-black ; iso nori-black; all season
fresh water nori- Kamogawa nori-; Suizenji nori 水前寺海苔 = kotobuki nori- thin sheets, reconstituted into thich sheets in warm water or dashi 30 min.-hour; no season
iwatake 岩茸- *(UMBILICARIA ESCULENTA)* black cliff fungus, rare, dangerous to collect; reconstitute 1 hr. in warm water, trim. soak in vinegar until soft; no season
bakudai 莫大- *(STERCULIA LYCHNOPHORA)*Chinese oak; medicinal dried fruit expands when soaked in water or bancha ; 1-2 hours; remove seeds, serve brown/orange pulp; sweetish; fall,winter
kiku no hana 菊の花- dried or fresh crysanthemum; white, yellow or purple; reconstitute or blanch- autumn; don’t use flower shop’s, autumn
nanohana 菜の花- rape flower, yellow flowers, greens; Spring; blanch
tara no me (Aralia elata)*- tree sprout; parboiled; midspring
udo 独活- (Aralia cordata) mid-spring; peel; akunuki cold water
hajikami- sprout of ginger; spring but preserved available; hot; pink when parboiled mid-spring
myoga 茗荷- flower stalk of zinziber; mid-summer; pink/green; cold water akunuki; said to cause forgetfulness
lotus root sprouts 芽蓮根- young best; lotus katsura-muki; mid-summer(Obon), New Year
daikon 大根- too common, mainly restaurant
kabocha 南瓜-pumpkin; raw, slivered; summer-winter
okra オクラ- blanched; small, stars, tataki or slivered; mid-summer
green beans - small or slivered, mid-summer
mitsuba stems 三つ葉- piquant, best in spring-summer

nihaizu 二杯酢-1/2 su, 1/2 shoyu
sanbaizu 三杯酢- su, shoyu, sake or dashi
irisu 煎酢- su (citrus or vinegar)-2, mirin- 1; boil; add shoyu to taste (for Boy’s Day “iris” get it? haha)
nambanzu 南蛮酢- su-3, mirin- 1, red pepper; boil, add shoyu; semi-pickle
karashisu 辛子酢 – su and mustard
ikarisu- sake boiled, shiso powder, bainiku
yakumi 薬味-

wasabi 山葵, wasabi+daikon grated together
ginger 土生姜-blue fish
garlic 大蒜-katsuo (*ARE YOU SHURE ABOUT GARLIC IN KAISEKI????*)
mustard/miso 辛子味噌- koi arai
bainiku 梅肉- hamo-otoshi
momiji-oroshi 紅葉大根降ろし- daikon / red pepper, grated
WANMORI 椀盛 (煮物 nimono)

Wanmori is the main dish of the kaiseki

main Gu 具
slice / chunk of fish, shell, arthropod
shinjo- steamed fish, shell and / or arthropod paste
tofu-type- steamed veg, egg; kuzu-yose
seasonal veg chunk- takenoko, matsutake
accompaniments (two or three)
leaves – chisha, tsuruna, spinach
mushroom- fresh or reconstituted
root – carrot, gobo, tiny turnip / daikon
sea veg – wakame, nori
flavored soup stock, 仕立 shitateÅF
katsuo kombu, salt, shoyu
clear- kiyojitate (no. one dashi)
kuzujitate- thickened kiyojitate
other- miso, grated kabura, chicken
with other dry fish
shojinÅF vegetarianÅF two or more
soy beans, parched
dried gourd- kampyo
dried shiitake mushrooms
kuchitori 口取 or yakumi 薬味
yuzu- Ctrus junos, fragrant citrus fruit, green or yellow. Mostly used for zest.
kinome, sansho- leaves or flowers-spring, leaves into summer
black pepper or sansho powder- autumn
sometimes goma, kotobuki nori
Yakimono 焼物

Yakimono course and utensil often unglazed ceramic, handled

grilled fish, almost any white fish (*BONED*); salt-grilled, Yu’an, shirayaki, / tade
grilled vegetablesÅF take no ko, naga-imo, matsutake
grilled birdÅF quail, kamo,
occasionally fried things but not popular for chakaiseki
things made / Western, etc.-tofu, dengaku, steak, grilled cheeze
This, and of course more rice in the hanki, completes the ichju sansai- one soup, three side dishes- which make up the prescribed wabi kaiseki. Yet, there are several more course which are not optional that follow the host’s meal- teishu shoban. Before retiring to the back, the Host may serve more (optional) food- the azukebachi, shiizakana, azukedokkuri- sake and ceramic cups. Somewhat like drawing a curtain between acts, the Host withdraws to eat in the back. This also gives the Host a chance to see to last minute details. It’s mainly to prevent the Host from losing concentration on serving Guests. Use motobushi aodake hashi.

Azukebachi 預鉢

Large bowl-motobushi aotake-bashi (green bamboo chopsticks with node at the far end) used when vegetarian fare, nakabushi (green bamboo chopsticks with node in the middle) used for meat; spoons also possible Small bowl or cup- small Rikyubashi, yahazubashi (chopsticks made of red cedar, with one side cut diagonally so that one pairlooks like an arrow notch) or kuromoji used as hashi.

Originally something made from leftover ingredients used in dishes already served, but prepared in a different way.

shiizakana / chinmi 強肴・珍味 - strongly flavored, rare or scarce delicacy that goes good with sake-eg. fish guts, sea cucumber gonads, uni, eggs, livers
su no mono- vinegared things; sea veg; oysters, tako and cucumbers. These do not always go well with sake.
taki-awase 炊き合わせ-2 or 3 things boiled or stewed seperately and brought together in bowl, with liquid. Pay attention to color, flavor, size, textures, (shell)fish / veg combinations. A place to show off your nice utensils.
aemono- 2-5 things cooked &/or raw, brought together with thick dressing, eg. goma, tofu
Use ryoubushi aodake hashi.

Kosuimono 小吸物

lit “small soup;” something hard to catch > hashiarai 箸洗 -“chopstick wash.” In formal banquet style honzen ryori, different trays would come with seperate soups and new pairs of chopsticks. In order to introduce a frugality into chakaiseki, (Rikyu?) introduced the small soup (instead of new tray) from honzen ryori into the second half of the kaiseki to wash the chopsticks as well as clear the palate, therefore eliminating the necessity for many pairs of hashi. The dashi is very thinly flavored, a small amount and with a slippery something hard to catch. Most common are kombu or umeboshi dashi. Gu may be seeds or other edible parts of previously used ingredients, eg. pumpkin seeds or hamo ukibukuro.

Hassun 八寸

Said to have been introduced to kaiseki by Rikyu, who took the idea from the offerings and the name from size of the trays they are served on (8 sun = approx. 24.2 cm), to the gods at Iwashimizu Hachiman (at any shrine really). supposed to be finger food. Early or “hashiri” leading to next season is good

umi no sachi 海の幸 - fish or ocean protein, protein
yama no sachi 山の幸 - mountain thing, vegetable
sato no sachi 里の幸 -only for special occasions, as when someone brings a foodstuff from the country as a gift; something man-made, from hometown. Must re-arrange slightly.
There is debate about which should and can be used for each catagory. For some “ocean” means fish, only; and “mountain” means vegetable; for others ocean means any kind of protein and mountain means any type of vegetable. The problem arises when one wants to use say bird or sea vegetable. Is bird an ocean representative? Can kombu be a mountain one? Decide for yourself. Use nakabushi aodake hashi. *URASENKE HAS UMI FRONT LEFT, YAMA BACK RIGHT OF HASSUN TRAY

Oyu お湯 and yunoko 湯の子

In keeping with the Zen origins of kaiseki, the last bit of rice, browned and clinging to the bottom of the rice pot is served at the end of the meal, to clean out the bowls and to show that nothing was wasted. This o-koge お焦, called yu no ko, is broken up and served in hot, lightly salted water, in a lacquered pitcher with a lacquered scooper. There are several ways to prepare yunoko

bottom of emptied hangama, heat, brown
parch raw rice in dry frypan
make cooked rice cakes, grill
buy arare  霰
Add just a bit of salt, hot water to bottom of pitcher mouth. Be sure there is more water than rice. Be ready to refill hot water.

Konomono 香の物

-“pickles” Salt-pickled, nuka pickled, etc.; two -seven types offered; variety of roots, shoots and leaves

One of them is always Takuan 沢庵- with hidden cuts to make it easy to use as sponge, and to eat quietly .

Kaiseki Dogu 懐石家具

Kaiseki kagu evolved from the sets of cinnabar lacquer bowls, plates, trays and other utensils (hanki, yuoke) necessary for the serving of shojin ryori in Zen temples. Rikyu used it almost unchanged, except for changing the color scheme from pure red to red and black (Sotan’s set exists- red body with black inside ring of “foot” of lid, bowl bottom). Between his time and the middle-late Edo, chajin apparently used a combination of temple and everyday lacquer and ceramic utensils to serve kaiseki, which was itself still flexible is its form. Of course there are partial sets of utensils, mainly yotsu wan and trays, hanki and serving scoops, yuoke and yunoko sukui based on Rikyu’s taste. From the time of 9th generation Fukensai (1746-1801), we see the first fully and purely cha-kaiseki kagu sets, konomi of an Iemoto.

In Ro season, whether shogo or yobanashi, after aisatsu, sumi is done to begin warming the room as well as boiling the water. After haiken of kogo, the Teishu brings the kaiseki. In Furo season shogo, which only takes place at the beginning of summer and end of autumn, there is a different order. To wit, after aisatsu, the kaiseki begins immediately. When the food is finished, sweets are served and the Guests remove to the koshikake. Asacha in mid-summer follows the pattern in ro, to cut down on waiting time.
We have looked at the lacquer used for kaiseki and the first group of ceramics, those used for the course of raw fish, the mukozuke dishes. Now I would like to turn to the next major group of ceramics used in Kaiseki cuisine, the various bowls, plates and platters used for other courses.

Of the one soup and three side dishes recommended by Sen Rikyu, the great founder of Tea, one which is presently served in or on “platters” is the grilled fish or yakimono course. Most frequently used are unglazed ceramic, such as Bizen or Shigaraki as well as certain glazed wares such as Oribe, Shino, Takatori and Karatsu, especially those with handles.

A completely different type of containers came into popular use in the Meiji period, for extra food served to use up left-over ingredients and to provide more chance for the guests to eat, drink and enjoy themselves and for the Host to have more time to get things ready and eat teishu shoban. These utensils as a group are known as azukebachi, “bowls left in the care of” the guests. Originally, another of their uses was to show off the possessions of the newly enriched entrepreneurial class which was using their wealth to enculturate themselves. One way they advanced their cultural standing was to buy (back) as much of the Chinese and Japanese art as they could, and use it in large trea gatherings and private chaji. Among the Chinese examples, we can find a few rare examples of Song period celadons and red overglazed aka-e of the Ming and later periods. Vast quantites of cobalt underglaze porcelains of the Yuan, Ming and Ching periods, such as the so-called sometsuke, gosu and shonzui types, were ordered from Chinese kilns by tea-master, Kobori Enshu and later collected by these modern industrial sukisha (amateur tea enthusiasts). Very few serving plates or bowls were acquired from Korea or from the lands further South. It was not until the 1890’s that these men discovered the cut glass of Bacarat, and still later that modern European ceramics began to infiltrate the more open field of cuisine within the kaiseki meal. Among Japanese wares, aside from those already mentioned in connection with serving the grillled course, more highly decorared works like those of Nonomura Ninsei, and Ogata Kenzan, followed by Nin’ami Dohachi, Eiraku Zengoro, etc. e2. Azukedokkuri 預徳利 and guinomi / sekihai 石盃 - more sake, in a tokkuri or differentiated server (eg. different lid) and ceramic drinking cups. Usually a different sake is selected. The first sake is used for muko, yakimono and hassun. Hot for first sake, room temp for second- ok; chilled ok in summer ; see Noh play Himuro.


Since ancient times, it has been a tradition in Japan to serve food on tray with “chopsticks.” That whenever one takes a pair of chopsticks in hand, one is offering thanks for the blesssings of Heaven and Earth, is yet another expression of ancient Japan’s aesthetic of daily life.

The chopsticks used for special occasions, especially celebrative festivities, are supposed to be thick in the middle, tapering and with both ends useable, just as are the chopsticks used in the cuisine for the traditional Japanese Way of Tea. and at New Years. For Kaiseki, cedar are used, for Shogatsu, willow. Sen Rikyu, the greatest Teamaster of ancient times, would carve from cedar the pairs of chopsticks he was using for his guests on the morning he was offering them tea. Rikyu’s ideas are still very much alive today. Cedar wood has a beautiful grain, a neatness and purity that can be felt as well as a richness and fragrance.

Kaiseki Kagu 懐石家具

kaiseki zen 膳/oshiki 押敷 (set of 5 guests number)
zenshoku  膳燭 (one for two guests)
gohan wan ご飯椀 (guests number)
shiru wan  汁椀 (guests number)
mukozuke 向付 (guests number)
tsubotsubo  壺々 (usually only for namasu; first-time guests)
hikihai  引杯 (guests number)
haidai  杯台 (one per five guests)
choshi/kannabe 銚子/熱鍋
hanki 飯器
sha(mo)ji  杓文字
nimono wan  煮物椀 (guests number)
yakimonobachi 焼物鉢
azukebachi 預鉢
azukedokkuri 預徳利
sekihai 石盃( more than number of guests); bon
marubon 丸盆
kayoibon 通盆 (ireko set 2)
脇引き盆 (ireko setÅF 2)
kosuimono wan  小吸物椀 (guests number)
hassun bon 八寸盆
yu oke 湯桶
yu no ko sukui 湯の子掬
tsukemonobachi 漬け物鉢
ao-take saibashi 青竹菜箸(set of 3 types)
kuromoji  黒文字 (guests number)
By Material and Usage


Lacquer “kaiseki kagu;” black but usually nimono and kosui have design. Konomi sets all share same design kaiseki zen 膳/oshiki  押敷 (set of 5) trays; usually square, but round, truncated, sumikiri (cut corners) gohan wan ご飯椀 (set of 5) rice bowl, larger of the two, goes on the left at bottom of tray shiru wan  汁椀 soup bowl, smaler of the two, goes on right hikihai  引杯 (set of 5) flat lacquer sake saucer, always red, sometimes with lacquered maki-e design; always served with tsuyu haidai  杯台 (one per five guests) tall stand for same, always black, sometimes with lacquered maki-e design hanki 飯器 round, rice serving box sha(mo)ji  杓文字 rice paddle nimono wan  煮物椀(set of 5) large, lidded lacquer bowl for main dish; goes center, far side of tray kayoibon 通盆ÅF marubon 丸盆 (ireko, one fitting inside other set 2) round tray for serving individual wakibiki bon 脇引き盆 (ireko setÅF 2) rectangular trays for carrying multiple bowls, kosuimono wan  小吸物椀 (set of 5) small bowls, often with different design from nimono wan; have lids that hang over rim, lid used for food yu oke 湯桶 lidded, bentwood pitcher, with handle and spout glued on. Used to serve the hot water and browned rice at end of meal yu no ko sukui 湯の子掬 shallow scoop with straight handle. Yotsuwan, literally “four bowls,” can mean the two bowls, for soup and rice and their lids, which were originally used for other foods. Another definition is the rice, soup, nimono and kosui wan


mukozuke 向付 usually ceramic, utensil for first sidedish,” usually raw fish for noon chaji tsubotsubo  壺壺 small utensil for serving namasu (vinegared red and white vegetables)
yakimono-bachi 焼物鉢 ceramic plate for grilled course
azuke-bachi 預鉢 bowls for extra food
azuke-dokkuri 預徳利 “bottles” for extra sake
sekihai 石盃( more than number of guests); sake cups, usually many types, always at least one extra so even last guest has choice; always served damp
bon tray for sekihai, may be wood, basket in summer, etc
tsukemono-bachi 漬け物鉢 ceramic pickle bowl

choshi/kannabe 銚子/熱鍋 metal, usually iron, pewter, silver sake server
hassun bon 八寸盆 fresh red cedar hegi sumikiri tray, about 8 sun (33 cm)
ao-take saibashi 青竹菜箸 fresh cut green bamboo chopsticks for serving yourself food; usually come in set of 3 pairsÅF nakabushi- node in middle, motobushi- node at end, and ryoboso-slender at both ends
zenshoku  膳 (one for two guests) candle sticks
kuromoji  黒文字 ( guests number) spicewood pick for omogashi