Poetic names (mei 銘) can be drawn from the poetry, literature, and language of any culture. To make this aesthetic play successful, in preparation for a tea gathering it would be worth the host's while to memorise the full poem or verse, the author and historical context from where the poetic name, Japanese or other, was harvested. By following the guidelines for naming chashaku, practitioners of chanoyu can create their own lists of mei 銘 ringing with rich, cultural beauty for the ear, intellect and mind’s eye.
By the roadside, footpaths and in gardens, precious, petit leaves are starting to sprout from the trees and shrubs. Bulbous species, too, are sprouting up form the earth. This mei refers to these treasures of nature. A mei filled with a sense of hope.
Spring Youth Verdure
Wakaba no midori
This poetic name sounds especially beautiful in its original seven syllable Japanese form. The English translation also contains five syllables making it convenient for use in waka/tanka poetry. This poetic name beautifully elucidates the vibrant colour and aura of young foliage.
"Blossoming through rock, Mt Tokiwa azaleas reveal my true love - My stone lips speak his name not, while my heart longs for him in flowers"
- from the 古今集 Kokinshū
「岩躑躅」"Rock Azalea" / iwa tsutsuji
The pastime of catching, or watching the flickering lights of fireflies on summer nights.
Ryōichimi is a word that expresses the feeling of cool with the five senses and the desire to create a cool environment for guests during the hot summer months. In the Nanbō Roku, a text that records Rikyū’s key teachings, are the words: ‘Create a feeling of cool in summer, a feeling of warm in winter’. The tearoom in the middle of summer is a place to pursue ryōichimi for the five senses, a place to offer your guests a sanctuary of cool away from the heat.
Reference: 'Chanoyu Kisetsu no Kotoba'
After a long period of hot weather when our surrounds have become dry and withered, after long last we are blessed with good rainfall. This is 'Kiu'. 喜 Ki ＝happines, joy 雨 u = rainfall. Reference: 'Chanoyu Kisetsu no Kotoba' Tankosha Publishing
One comes to a viewpoint on a mountain climb. Suddenly, as far as the eye can see, a sea of green trees unfolds -a bout to hit their peak in mid-summer. So vast, green and full, it's as if one catches a glimpse of nothingness.
A summer variation of the original Zen phrase 'Ginsenju' (Thousand Silver Trees), located in the Mid Winter section.
Shimmering Autumn Air
On a fine day in autumn, the air is fresh but golden sunlight warms the earth, creating diffraction above the surface of wild-grass. This shimmering air, quivering in delight from the warm heath reaching up into the cool atmosphere, is called ‘aki-urara’.
My Companion the Moon
Tsuki no Tomo
Tsuki no Tomo
My companion the moon
川上と / Kawakami to
この川下や / Kono kawashimo ya
月の友 / Tsuki no tomo
Towards the end of Autumn, piercing winds blow from the North. These winds cripple the last of the Autumn leaves. When the winds visit again days later, the strong gusts sweep the last autumn leaves from their trees. Seeing this gives us an opportunity to reflect on impermanence (mujyō).
Bashō use Kogarashi in following poem:
木枯に / kogarashi ni
岩吹きとがる / iwa fukitogaru
杉間かな / sugima kana
North winds blow
the rocks sharpened
among the cedars
In late autumn when a frost turns leaves black, the black withered leaves are referred to as ‘shimogare’.
凍(ite) = ice 蝶(cho) = butterfly
Picture a winter butterfly, perched stiff on a tree branch like an icicle too cold to fly. This is 'itechō'.
Asa = morning, yuki = snow. Asayuki is the scene of fresh snow laying in the morning.
Asayuki (Kesa no Yuki) is used in the following Bashō poem:
なにといふとも / nani to iu tomo
今朝の雪 / kesa no yuki
Now how should we name you?
In the morning snow
If you want to read more about chashaku poetic names and have access to a list created and compiled by Adam Sōmu Wojciński and Sōmu Shachū students for keiko meetings and chaji, choose the option FULL LIBRARY on Adam Sōmu Wojciński Patreon.