What is Hako-gaki ?

Hako-gaki on Kiribako

"Hako-gaki" means autograph or note of authentication written on a box containing an artworks.

Most of the accessories used for tea ceremonies are sored in a paulownia kiri wooden box " Kiribako "with an Hako-gaki, which is written in black ink. For example, tea bowls and tea accessories made by "Raku ware"(a type of Japanese pottery traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies) are often inscribed on the back of the box lid (and sometimes on the front of the lid as well) by Iemoto (the head of the tea ceremony) and other prominent tea masters of the period. The name and origin of the tea accessory that is the contents of the box are clearly indicated, and the accessories are guaranteed by the Iemoto.

In addition to indicating where the accessories came from and who made them, the name of the tea ceremony accessory has an important function as being used to indicate the combination of the accessories. In tea ceremonies and tea gatherings, it is the accessories that satisfy the hearts of the guests gathered for the tea ceremony and convey the master's thoughtfulness to the guests, and the function of the accompanying "inscription" further strengthens the power of the accessories to connect the hearts of both master and guests.

At a tea ceremony, the spirit of the master is conveyed to the guest through the hanging scrolls in the alcove, and the inscriptions on boxes of the tea bowl and Chashaku (bamboo tea spoon for making Japanese tea) strengthen the connection between the master and guest. Hako-gaki on boxes of tea accessories do not merely indicate the authenticity of their contents, but also show the historical significance and the enjoyment of the accessories, making the function of the inscriptions diverse and multifaceted.

Many tea ceremony accessories handed down through the long history of the tea ceremony have been preserved and passed down by famous tea masters (from the shogun to the common people) from the mid-Muromachi period (1333-1573 CE) to the present day, and can still be seen today in various places.