Chakin: The Japanese Tea Towel

Chakin, a Japanese term meaning “tea towel,” is a rectangular cloth that serves the purpose of wiping teabowls, or chawan. It is a significant part of Japanese tea utensils and is used in Senchadō as well.

Image: Chakin (茶巾) – Tea Hemp Cloth

Typically, white linen or hemp cloth is used to make chakins. The Narazarashi, a high-quality bleached hemp cloth from Nara Prefecture, is especially esteemed historically. The size of chakins varies depending on the application and style, but it is usually a rectangle measuring around 1 shaku (尺) x 5 sun (寸) (30.3 x 15.2cm). The lengthwise edges are finished with a narrow rolled hem using overlock stitching. These two hems face opposite sides of the cloth. When not in use, the chakin is folded in a specific manner and stored in a small vessel or cylinder known as kintō (巾筒).

Leave a Reply