How curious it must have seemed that these craftsmen, witnessing the wonders of the Western mechanical clock, should take the same mechanism used to create such a creature of utility, and fashion from it instead a tea-serving doll.
~Chris Field, Tales from a Tea-Carrying Doll
Today we're looking at a type of karakuri (automated doll) called chahakobi ningyō (bearers of tea). They walk forward until the tea cup is removed, then, after the tea cup is put back, they return to their starting point. A chahakobi ningyō can take a year to make!
A chahakobi ningyō in action:
Karakuri, circa 1800
photo by PHGCOM
Tea-carrying doll by Shobei Tamaya, replica from book published in 1796
photo by Daderot
Other tea posts