A fukuro-dana is a large display stand used in chanoyu. It is known by the alternative name ‘Shino-dana’. The display stand is composed of two, large rectangular panels, one for the top board called the ten-ita or ‘heaven board’, and one for the bottom board that sits on the tatami called the ji-ita or ‘earth board’. Four posts support the heaven board from the earth board. Between the heaven and earth boards are staggered shelves or ‘chigai-dana’. The right shelf is the higher of the two, called the naka-dana or ‘middle shelf’. The lower left shelf is called the ‘kō-dana’ or ‘incense shelf’. The incense shelf also makes up the top panel of a drawer called the ‘ji-bukuro’. A ji-bukuro is a cupboard or drawer that sits on the floor and it is from this distinctive drawer (fukuro) that the fukuro-dana most likely gets its name. There is a hole cut out of the vertical panel that stands between the bottom left ‘incense shelf’ and the top right ‘middle shelf’. This hole is called the ‘kō- zama’, meaning a window which allows incense to pervade more freely from the fukuro-dana throughout the room. The window also allows the incense utensils to be more easily visible to guests. The kō- zama is cut in the shape of a katō-mado (fire light window), a window cut with an ogee-type pointed top with a series of S-like curves on either side of the peak. Katō-mado first started to appear in Japan at the end of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), right when the fukuro-dana was first contrived. Katō style windows are said to have come to Japan together with Zen style temple architecture. However, this style of window can be seen in Islam and Christian architecture, with roots as far back as Zoroastrianism in Persia. The only decorative aspect of the fukuro-dana thus evokes the Silk Road, globalism and the oldest roots of our spiritual traditions.
The fukuro-dana is used by many schools of chanoyu and warrior class schools in particular. This is because from the time of Furuta Oribe (1543-1615) or just after his death in 1615, the fukuro- dana came into popular use among warrior tea masters, with Ueda Sōko (1563-1650) and Kobori Enshū (1579-1647) being two examples of tea masters who regularly used this tana. The Shino Ryū of kōdō (Way of Incense) uses the fukuro-dana in very elaborate incense rites. The Shino Ryū refers to the fukuro-dana as a ‘Shino-dana’ to maintain a strong link to its presumed creators, the founder of the Shino Ryū of incense Shino Sōshin (dates unkown) and the 2nd generation head, Shino Sōon (?-1562). The concept of the Shino-dana is said to have originated with Sōshin and then been further perfected by his son, Sōon.
The fukuro-dana’s ubiquitous inclusion in the old manuscripts of chanoyu, right from the earliest documents written on the art, is proof the fukuro-dana was a central tool for the practice of chanoyu and incense in the Muromachi (1336-1573) and Momoyama (1573-1603) Periods. As it was used in both the emergent Ways of tea and incense, it seems to have been a bridge between the two practices, allowing an information, protocol and etiquette flow between them. The fukuro- dana was probably the first purpose-built tool for tea and incense that diverged from the archetype of the daisu. Its plain wood design shows a clear move towards wabi aesthetics and in this way it can be seen as one of the catalysts for the evolution of wabi-cha. However, the precise origin of the fukuro-dana is difficult to determine due to inconsistent records.