Takayama tea whisks Photo:Nara Prefecture

Takayama tea whisks Takayama chasen

At the heart of the tea ceremony
A bamboo whisk of light and air

Description

What is Takayama tea whisks ?

Takayama Chasen are tea whisks produced in Takayama Town, Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture; each one is completely handmade and contributes to taking a phenomenal 90% share of the Japanese tea whisk market. A tea whisk, made of bamboo, is one of the tea ceremony utensils, and used for frothing tea. A bamboo tube measuring about 10 cm is cut and about 6 or 7 cm is finely split and bound with thread. Since first starting to be made in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), more than 60 types of tea whisks are now crafted, and depending on the purpose or school of tea ceremony, the whisk shape, bamboo type, and thread color will differ. Tea whisks are also used for other purposes than making matcha, the classic powdered green tea. Well-known examples are buku-buku cha (frothy tea) in Okinawa and bote-bote cha (soup-like tea) in Matsue, and for these teas, somewhat larger whisks are used.

History

Takayama Chasen were first made in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573). According to legend, Murata Juko, known as the founder of wabi-cha (the simple tea ceremony), requested Takayama Minbunojo Nyudo Sosetsu to make him some tea whisks. Unfortunately very little evidence concerning either man exists from those times, but we do know tea whisks (chasen) made by Takayama Minbunojo Nyudo Sosetsu were presented to Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado by Murata Juko. The Emperor was delighted and bestowed the name Takaho, and so the tea whisk came to be known as Takaho Chasen. It is unclear when or who changed the name of Takaho Chasen to Takayama Chasen. In the background of the success of the local Takayama tea whisk industry, we find a plentiful supply of good quality bamboo easily harvested in the mountains near Takayama and a ready market in the nearby cities of Kyoto and Osaka.

General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Nara Prefectural Shoko Kankokan "Kitemite Nara Shop"

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