What is “Kaishi” ? Explain it in an easy-to-understand manner, including how to use it

What is “Kaishi” ? Explain it in an easy-to-understand manner, including how to use it
2023年9月18日 MELETY

Among the various tools used in the tea ceremony, we will introduce “Kaishi” this time.


What is Kaishi?

“Kaishi” refers to paper that is carried in one’s pocket. Originally, it referred to “ryōshi,” which was paper used for writing waka (Japanese poetry) and haiku. It came to be called “Kaishi” because people would discreetly carry it in their pockets. From there, it evolved, and in the days when kimono was the common attire for Japanese people, it was always kept in one’s pocket and had many uses, similar to a handkerchief or memo paper in modern times. It was an essential item for daily life.

Today, you can find various types of Kaishi in stationery stores and shops that specialize in Japanese paper products, and anyone can easily purchase them. The most popular type is the plain white Kaishi, often used in tea ceremonies. After folding them into a bundle, they are carried in a folded form.


Examples of how to use Kaishi:

・As a placemat
・As memo paper or stationery
・When presenting a gift or token of appreciation
・Wiping the mouth
・As a coaster
・To wipe spills on the table
・As a handkerchief

While there are many common uses for Kaishi, the Kaishi used in a tea ceremony is primarily used when enjoying tea and sweets.


Procedure of Tea ceremony:

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Kaishi during a tea ceremony:

1. Remove the Kaishi from your pocket. Place the Kaishi with the sweets-cutting tool inside.

2. Set the Kaishi between the sweets and yourself.

3. Take one sweet at a time, starting from the right, and place them on the Kaishi.

4. Since the chopsticks used to pick up the sweets are now dirty, use the corner of the Kaishi to wipe them clean.

5. Hold the chopsticks in your right hand and lift the Kaishi to chest height with your left hand.

6. Use the sweets-cutting tool to cut and serve the sweets.

7. After finishing the sweets, thoroughly wipe the sweets-cutting tool with the Kaishi.

8. Finally, the used and soiled Kaishi should be placed in the left sleeve.

This guide outlines the proper etiquette for using Kaishi during a tea ceremony.

In situations where there are moist sweets like Mizumanju (water steamed buns), it’s common to use sulfur paper or similar materials to prevent moisture from seeping into the Kaishi. For Mizumanju, it’s sometimes served individually on small plates or bowls with a spoon. Even when using individual plates, you may transfer the sweets to the Kaishi, but when using individual bowls, you enjoy them directly without transferring them to the Kaishi.

While these are the customs in the tea ceremony, there may be variations in etiquette depending on the school or tradition. In everyday situations, it’s also common to use Kaishi to prevent spills when eating foods with a lot of liquid or to place a Kaishi under a pouring vessel to avoid spillage. Additionally, when giving money, it’s considered a refined gesture to sandwich the bills between Kaishi rather than handing them over directly.

“Kaishi” is a handy item to have. We recommend everyone to try using it not only in the context of the tea ceremony but also in their everyday lives!


A Denim Dress with a Kaishi Pocket

■Denim Long Dress

This dress is from the MELETY brand and comes with a pocket on the chest for carrying Kaishi or clothing fabric.

It’s very convenient to have Kaishi or a handkerchief tucked in your chest pocket when dining at restaurants or cafes so you can easily use them when you need to wipe your mouth.

Plus, the ribbon tied at the back adds a touch of cuteness and can enhance your style!

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