A Shigaraki tea caddy with distinct shoulders and faceted walls. One side of the tea caddy has a dark red ash glaze wall with metallic shine. The other side is unglazed where the sand-colored clay turned into bright orange during firing. The color as well as the unique shape with vertical lines, also known from medieval Shigaraki pieces, may give the association for the name of this work. The 12th head of the Horinouchi family (a famous branch of the Urasenke tea ceremony school dating back to the 17th Century), Horinouchi Sōkan (Kenchūsai, 1919-2015) named this tea caddy 'Brushwood Gate' (Shiba no to) and wrote his appraisal inside the lid of the double-chambered wooden box.
The phrase shiba no to has many poetic connotation and some of the most interesting usages of it can be found in the work of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694). For instance, when he refers to the late Heian-period monk Saigyō (1118-1190) and his friendly monk named Amidabō in a poem:
"This brushwood hut's moon/ just as it was/ for Amidabō"
(Shiba no to no/ tsuki ya sono mama/ Amidabō).
Or when he refers to the Tang poet Bo Juyi (772-846) in an even more intriguing example, comparing humorously his own renunciation of profit and fame with that of the many failed personalities in China's ancient capital Chang'an:
"At the brushwood gate/ tea leaves, gathered/ by the storm"
(Shiba no to ni/ cha no konoha kaku/ arashi kana)
The two seasonal words 'fallen leaves' and 'stormy wind' traditionally signify the autumnal transience and are generally associated with melancholic mood, However, in Bashō's poem the stormy wind is switched to something more positive, since it sweeps him some tea leaves against the gate of his simple hut.
The name for the tea caddy can be interpreted in different ways. The brushwood gate might refer to the vessel's color scheme and the container itself is associated at the place where the 'tea is gathered' for guests.