Entoten is delighted to announce that the Mingei International Museum in San Diego has recently acquired a group of Takayama Chasen (tea whisks) by Tanimura Tango for its collection. This is ground-breaking because the story of the humble bamboo whisk, is hardly ever told in other museums, where much of the focus is given to the tea bowls and other utensils. But without the chasen, there will be no matcha nor other utensils, be it in your home or any school of tea.
The Tanimura family has been making chasen in Takayama, Nara prefecture, for nearly 500 years over 20 generations. During this pandemic, my awe and gratitude for the Tanimura family’s dedication to their craft was renewed because, the adversities that they must have overcome in their history of half a millennium was brought into perspective.
A chasen is made of a single piece of bamboo, and it is a highly renewable, natural material that is kind to the environment. It is flexible to be able to mix the powdered tea efficiently, but without damaging the bowl. So it is difficult to find a utensil that is as perfect as a chasen.
I hope that this consummate utensil will become a more familiar object to the people here, through the collection of the Mingei International Museum, soon to be reborn in the heart of San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park. The Museum is currently closed to go through a major transformation and will reopen in 2021, continuing to shine a light on Mingei: the art of the people from all eras and cultures of the world since 1974.