Poetic Names for Tea Scoops 茶杓の銘 Chashaku no Mei

Mei examples

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.

Spring  春

Spring Awakening



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.

Image: @minenomatsu

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. 

Image: @minenomatsu

Rock Azalea


Iwa Tsutsuji

"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


Summer 夏

Catching fireflies



The pastime of catching, or watching the flickering lights of fireflies on summer nights.

Image: @minenomatsu

Cool Respite



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'

Tankosha Publishing

Image: @adamsomu

Welcomed Rain



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

Image: @minenomatsu

Infinite Forest 



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. 

Image: @minenomatsu

Autumn 秋

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’. 

Image: @minenomatsu

My Companion the Moon


Tsuki no Tomo

Tsuki no Tomo

Strolling upriver,

Meandering downriver,

My companion the moon


川上と / Kawakami to

この川下や / Kono kawashimo ya

月の友 / Tsuki no tomo

- Bashō


Image: @minenomatsu

North Wind 



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


Image: @minenomatsu

Winter 冬

Frost-bitten Leaves



In late autumn when a frost turns leaves black, the black withered leaves are referred to as ‘shimogare’.

Image: @minenomatsu

Crystal Butterfly



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'.

Image: @minenomatsu

Morning Snow



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:


黒森を/ kuromori-o 

なにといふとも / nani to iu tomo

今朝の雪 / kesa no yuki


Black Forest:

Now how should we name you?

In the morning snow


Image: @minenomatsu

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.