This is a glossary of important words associated with the Japanese Formal Tea Ceremony and Tea Gardens.  For a list of Japanese gardening terms, see Japanese Gardening Terms.

a – c         d – i         j – n        o – z

aisatsu – greetingsazukibachi – a skillful combination of ingredients from the other kaiseki dishes meant to demonstrate no waste.

chabana 茶花 – “tea flowers”. 2 or 3 flowers and branches arranged naturally.

chaire 茶入 – tea container for koicha.

chaji 茶事 – the term used for a formal tea translates as” tea thing”, and is the term used today for a formal tea gathering. The host will serve a meal in the tea kaiseki style, but the emphasis is on thin tea (usucha) and thick tea (koicha).

chakai 茶 会 – was the word used 400 years ago for Chaji. Today, it is used for an informal tea gathering, usually a sweet and bowl of thin tea (usucha).

chakin 茶巾 – a linen tea cloth.

Chanoyu  茶の湯 – Japanese tea ceremony.

A Chanoyu Vocabulary: Practical Terms for the Way of Tea Japanese-English translation of Tea terms. See

chasen 茶筅 – tea whisk. It is made from bamboo and used to make ceremonial tea as well as to apply the “dew” to flower arrangements for the tea ceremony.

chashaku 茶杓 – tea scoop. It is carved from bamboo and bent by heat. It is often made by Buddhist priests, giving it a special association.

chashitsu 茶室 – a traditional tearoom.

chawan 茶碗 – tea bowl. In Tea, it refers to the bowl used to make and serve ceremonial tea.

chiriana 塵穴 – dust hole. This is a mortared or cement hole placed in area in full view of guests and near the teahouse entry. A symbol of disposing of the dust and clutter of the garden as guests dispose of dust and clutter of the world outside.

chozubachi 手水鉢 – stone basin for washing. Chozubachi are used as part of the tsukubai, or “place where one must bend down”. It is part of the physical and spiritual cleansing in order to partake in the tea ceremony. In the tsukubai, it is always placed low so one must crouch down in order to use it.

chūmon 中門 – middle gate. This is the middle gate within a tea garden. It is the passage from the outer garden to the inner tea garden, and the symbolic door from the outside world to the inner pure world of tea.

Daimaru or Takashimaya – two very comprehensive department stores in Kyoto.

dora  – gong. The gong is rung a number of times, depending on the number of guests, to let tea ceremony attendees know that all is ready for the first part of the ceremony.

Dozo oshimae kudasai.” –  “Please go ahead and finish (making tea).”  It is a phrase to let the host know it is ok to stop making tea and move on to the next part.

fujibai 藤灰 – wisteria ash used for decoration.

fūro  風呂  – portable brazier used in the warm season; usually May to October.  Also the word for the traditional Japanese hot bath.

furokama 風炉釜 – furo (brazier) and kama (iron kettle) used to heat water for tea.  It is used in the warm season; usually from May to October.

futaoki 蓋置  – the lid rest.

gozumi – second charcoal procedure of the tea ceremony.

Gyo 行 – of the semi-formal style.  It is sometimes used to describe Japanese glazed ceramics.

haifuki 灰吹 –  bamboo cylinder for ashes. It is a bamboo tube containing a small amount of water for the disposal of ash from the tobacco pipe.

haiken 拝見 – to inspect, look over, or admire objects.

hanaire 花入 – flower vase for tea arrangement.

hanki 飯器 – a dish used to serve rice.

hanto – the host’s assistant.

hasun 八寸, a small wooden cedar tray which is 8 sun (about 8 inches) with food from the mountains and food from the ocean. It is part of the kaiseki meal.

hiire 火入れ – lit charcoal container. A small container with ash and a lit piece of charcoal to light the tobacco in the smoking pipe.

hishaku 柄杓 – water ladle made of bamboo.

ichi go ichi e”  一期一会 –  “One chance, one opportunity”. A phrase meaning this time together is a one time opportunity, so make the best of it. Wikipedia explains the term as “linked with Zen Buddhism and concepts of transience. The term is particularly associated with the Japanese tea ceremony, and is often brushed onto scrolls which are hung in the tea room. In the context of tea ceremony, ichi-go ichi-e reminds participants that each tea meeting is unique”.

Ichio oshimae itashimasu”  – “I will finish for now.”

ichimonji 一文字, or the Japanese number one.

ishi-doro – Japanese stone lantern. See the Stone Lanterns reference for more information.

kaiseki  懐石 – tea meal. It is the name for the “simple meal” that is in reality a very carefully created meal that is served in tea ceremonies. Kaiseki cooking is based on the lunar calendar and includes many dishes using the foods available in the season. It is made up of many special dishes.  It is said that the idea came from the warm stones that some Buddhists would use during long seshin they take part in. The warm stone, wrapped in a cotton cloth would be placed in the kai or front opening of the samue (Monks work clothes) or kimono to warm the body and trick the stomach into feeling full.

kaishi 懐紙 – multi-use paper napkins carried in the kimono.

kakemono, 掛け物 – hanging scroll with painting or calligraphy to hang in the tokonoma.

kansha suru  感謝する – to be thankful for.

kensui 建水 – discard water container.

ko chakin 小茶巾 – small tea cloth for guests. A guest uses it to wipe that area of the rim from which they drank.

– the base or foot of a Japanese bowl or cup.

kogo 香合 – incense container, often containig sandalwood chips.

koicha 濃茶 – thick tea.

koshikake machiai  腰掛け待ち合い –  a waiting room in the inner garden.  Tea guests would wait here in the beginning and in between parts of a tea ceremony.

kozuimono 小吸物 – a clear soup to cleanse the pallet before the exchange of saki.

kuromoji – small sticks used to pick up and eat tea sweets.

machiai 待合 – tea waiting room, usually with three walls and a pitched roof, leaving the front open.

mae-ishi 前石 a low, flat stone set in front of a chozubachi or lantern and used to stand on. It is 3 or 4 inches higher that the stepping stones.

miso 味噌汁 – ingredient in soup made from broth and fermented soy beans.

mizusashi 水指 –  cold water container.mizuya  水屋 –  preparation room.

mukosuke –  literally means “over there”.  A typical mukozuke for the standard tea is a raw fish (sashimi) served with saki.

nakadachi  中立 – the middle “break” of the tea ceremony.

natsume 棗 – thin tea container.

nijiriguchi 躙口- the crawl in entrance way guests use to enter a traditional tea house.

nimono 煮物 –  the main course of the kaiseki meal.  This is usually a clear broth with a steamed fish paste with shrimp.  Only seasonal ingredients are used to make this. It is served in a decorated covered lacquer bowl.

Osaki ni”  – “Forgive me for going before you.”

Oshimae itashimasu” – “I will finish.”

Oshoban itashimasu”,” I will join you.”

Otemae chodai itashimasu” – “Thank you for making tea.”

ro  炉 – a sunken hearth within the tea room where water is heated.  Usually used in the cool months November to April.

roji 露地 – the “Dewy Path”.  The garden path from the ordinary world to the world of tea.

seiza  正座 –  to sit kneeling with buttocks resting on the heels.

sekimori ishi 関守 –  A small stone tied with a topknot to signify a path is closed.

Sen Rikyu  – a very influential tea master responsible for many developments in the Way of Tea.

shifuku – a small silk bag for protection of valuable items.

Shin 真 – of the formal style.  It is sometimes used to describe Japanese glazed ceramics.

Shogochaji 正午茶事 –  a standard noon tea.

shokyaku  初客 –  the “first guest” or guest of honor of a tea ceremony.

shozumi 初炭 – charcoal procedure in the tea ceremony.

So 草 – of the informal style.  It is sometimes used to describe Japanese glazed ceramics.

soto-roji – the outer portion of the Tea garden outside the middle gate .

suimon – water gate. This hole serves as a drain and to regulate the water in the drain basin of a tsukubai.

tabakobon  煙草盆 – smoking tray.

tabi –  split toe socks for wearing with sandals.

temaeza 点前座 – area where the host makes the tea in the tea room.

tatami mat 畳 – thick, woven straw mats of 91 cm by 183 cm, or about 3 feet by 6 feet, used as a floor covering.

teoke 手桶 – a Japanese water bucket, usually of wood or split bamboo.

teshoku 手燭 – a hand-carried candle holder. It is usually iron with three legs.

teshoku-ishi 燭石  – a stone for holding a lantern or candlestick holder. It is flat-topped stone, shorter than the youke-ishi and placed to the left of the basin.  The Uresenke School of Tea calls for it to be located on the right.  It is used during a night-time tea ceremony.

tokobashira 床柱 –  the post that supports the free-standing edge of the tokonoma.

tokonoma 床の間 – a special alcove for display of treasured items such as a scroll or flower arrangement.

toriawase  取り合わせ –  the tasteful selection and integration of utensils and other elements of the tea ceremony.

tsukubai つくばい – “place where one must bend down”. The tsukubai is a place rather than the basin itself. It is in the inner roji and centered around a chozubachi surrounded by special stones such as the crouching stone, lantern stone, hot water stone, etc. The tsukubai area is usually 5 to 15 steps from the tearoom.  Learn more here.

tsukubai hishaku – an oversized hishaku (wooden tea water ladle) used to draw water to rinse the mouth and hands. It usually rests on the edge of the chozubachi.

tsume  – the last guest for tea (often an assistant to help the host with details of the ceremony).

tsuyu 露 – dew. The tea flower arrangement is sprinkled with water to emulate dew – a sign of freshness.

uchi-rojo – the inner Tea garden between the middle gate and the Tea house. This is where the tsukubai is located.

Urasenke (Ura Senke) – a school of the Way of Tea.

ushiro-ichi – the back stone behind the chozubai.

usucha 薄茶 – thin tea.

WA KEI SEI JAKU 和 敬 清 寂 – WA is the importance of harmony in Tea.  KEI is the importance of respect.  SEI is the importance of purity.  JAKU is the importance of selfless tranquility.

warabiboki – a broom of fern fronds (now used for decoration, but in the past was used for the cleaning the roji).

yakimono 焼き物 –  a grilled dish, usually a seasonal fish that is grilled over charcoal.

yaku-ishi 役石 – named stones that play and important role in the tea garden. Here, it refers to the 4 stones used in the tsukubai arrangement.  Learn more here.

yuoke-ishi – stone for warm water pail. It is taller than the teshoku-ishi and usually to the right of the water basin. The Uresenke School of Tea calls for it to be located on the left. A bucket of warm water placed on this stone would be used in cold weather instead of the chozubachi.  Learn more here.

zaboki 座箒 a large feather used as a broom to clean the tea making mat.

zabuton – cushions for the guest to sit on and help relieve the pain of long sitting.

zori  草履 – Japanese sandals made from woven materials. Those used for the Tea ceremony are very primitive in style compared to the standard zori.


For a description of a tea ceremony by Elliot Mitchnich, see Chaji – A Formal Tea Ceremony