Kogo/Kougou: Delicate Incense Containers for Fragrant Offerings

The Kogo (香合), also known as Kougou, is a small container crafted from ceramic or wood, designed to hold a few pieces of incense. These incense pieces can either be Neriko or Kouboku, each lending its unique fragrance to the tea ceremony. During the Sumidemae, the Kogo is brought into the tea room along with other utensils and the Sumi in the Sumitori charcoal container.

Haboki (羽箒); Hibashi (火箸); Hai (灰); Haisaji (灰匙); Kamashiki (釜敷); Kan (鐶); Kou ( 香 ); Kogo / Kougou (香合); Sumi ( 炭 ) (charcoal)

The Kogo comes in a variety of shapes and forms, ranging from simple round designs to intricate cherry blossom petal shapes, octagons, and even animal or moon shapes. These diverse forms add an artistic touch to the ceremony, reflecting the creativity and aesthetics cherished in the tea tradition.

The incense from the Kogo serves a special purpose in the ceremony. It is placed in the charcoal fire, gradually releasing a delightful aroma as the Sumi (charcoal) grows hotter and hotter. Typically, there are about three pieces of incense in the Kogo, but only two are used during the ceremony. One piece is positioned near the fire, infusing the surroundings with a pleasant scent. The second piece is placed at a greater distance from the fire, allowing it to ignite later and provide a continuous fragrance throughout the Chashitsu (tea room).

The presence of the Kogo in the tea ceremony symbolizes the appreciation of fragrance and the desire to create a harmonious sensory experience for guests. Its delicate beauty and practical function contribute to the overall elegance and immersive nature of the tea ceremony.

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