Kensui : The Essential Waste Water Receptacle in Japanese Tea Ceremony

In the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, one of the important utensils is the Kensui (建水), which serves as a waste water receptacle or bowl. The purpose of the Kensui is to collect and contain the used water and tea residue that is discarded during the tea-making process.

Image: Kensui (建水)

The Kensui is typically made of ceramic or metal and is designed with a wide opening and shallow depth, allowing for easy disposal of waste water. It is an essential component of the tea ceremony, as it ensures cleanliness and tidiness throughout the ritual.

During the tea ceremony, when the tea utensils are rinsed or cleaned, the waste water is carefully poured into the Kensui, preventing it from contaminating other elements of the ceremony. The Kensui is placed strategically within reach of the host, providing a convenient and discreet way to dispose of the waste water without interrupting the flow of the ceremony.

The design and material of the Kensui can vary, ranging from simple and unadorned to elaborate and ornate, reflecting the aesthetic preferences of the tea ceremony school or the personal style of the practitioner. Despite its utilitarian function, the Kensui holds a symbolic significance in the tea ceremony, representing the importance of cleanliness, respect for the environment, and the mindfulness inherent in the tea practice.

The Kensui stands as a humble yet vital element of the tea ceremony, ensuring the smooth progression of the ritual while upholding the principles of cleanliness and harmony that are central to this revered Japanese tradition.

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