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Japan House Shares Sumi Demae

Event Type
Japan House
Jan 17, 2021   4:00 pm  
Michael Darin
Originating Calendar
Japan House events

Join us Sunday, January 17 at 4pm as we present our first Japan House Shares for 2021, featuring Sumi Demae with Lindsey Stirek, Assistant Director of Academic Programming (supported by Professor Emeritus Shozo Sato).

Fire, and specifically charcoal fire, is an extremely important part of chado (the way of tea). With the advent of electric burners, tea practitioners use sumi, or charcoal, less frequently than in days past, but it remains an integral element in the evolution of tea, and there are several ceremonies devoted exclusively to laying charcoal.

At the Urasenke Konnichian headquarters in Kyoto, special steps are taken to honor the role of sumi in chado. Before New Year’s Eve comes to a close, the last sumi of that year is buried in the ashes and a large ceramic cover called a totan is used to cover the hearth and keep the fire smoldering until morning. This uzumibi (buried fire) is used to light the first charcoals of the New Year, which helps heat the kettle of water used for the first tea of the year. Thus, the fire of the previous year lives on, but is reignited and enlivened with fresh, new charcoal.

Shozumi is a temae (tea ceremony) performed at the beginning of a chaji (tea gathering) to heat the water for tea. One of the seven central rules passed down from the great tea master Sen no Rikyu is “lay the charcoal so it heats the water.” Though there has not always been a prescribed sumi demae, over time, tea masters discovered the ideal ways to lay the sumi in order to heat the water thoroughly, and these are the sumi demae we do today.

Lindsey will be performing a shozumi demonstration followed by a simple usucha honoring Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji

Watch the YouTube Premiere video with the Japan House Staff at 4pm where you can LIVE CHAT! Make sure you log in a few minutes early to see the countdown.

If you would like to watch the Japan House Shares videos at your leisure, they are available online indefinitely.

If you’ve enjoyed this event and would like to continue to support Japan House’s online programming, please visit:


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