Nov 24, 2014

You have just two hands

All those rows of tools
For cutting and chopping wood
You have just two hands

My husband is a woodworker and he has an impressive amount of tools in the shop for cutting and chopping wood.  From large table saws with impressive blades to tiny knives and files.  Yet he can only use his two hands cut wood at any one time.

Likewise, I have an impressive amount of tea utensils for making tea.  Yet, I can only  use my two hands to make tea.

When we are doing temae, we should be concentrating on one thing at a time.  Literally temae means the point in front of you.   Handling the utensils should take all of our attention.

There is a proper way to pick up, carry, and put down each utensil.  Each hand has its job to do and when it is not working, it has a proper place to be. Part of this is the mindfulness of keeping track of what we are doing.  Another part is that using the proper hand to do something sets you up for something after.  For example, if you pick up the bowl with your right hand you can immediately put it on your left palm. This also shows respect for the utensils and for the artists who created them.

If you are using two hands to handle or carry something, there is a greater attention to what you are handling.  When my children were small and I asked them to use two hands, they paid much more attention what they were doing (less spilled milk).  Likewise in the tea room, if you use two hands to handle something you are paying more attention to what you are doing. 

Even in the mizuya, it is no place to let our attention lapse.  Handle things with two hands. Pick them up and put them down properly.  Don't hand something directly to someone in the mizuya.  Put it down in front of them, and let them pick it up.  It is safer, and more attention is paid to what you are handling on both sides.

Last night, my husband asked me to hand him the TV remote.  I remember picking it up with my right hand, transferring it to my left hand, turning it around like a chashaku with my right hand and placing it directly in front of him.  He laughed, and told me only a tea person would have done that!

Nov 19, 2014

Robiraki 2014

Marujoku Tana
On November 9, 2014 Issoan Tea School celebrated the opening of the winter hearth with Robiraki. There were 3 seki of 4 people each.  A real charcoal fire was laid to heat the water.  Because charcoal is so hard to import from Japan, and is so very expensive, we seldom get to see the fire laid.

Everyone got a chance to come close to see how the fire was built
Cold wet kettle is put on when the guests arrive
Shitabi the starter charcoals

First Seki

Second Seki
Third Seki

And then a light meal was served.
After the meal, the traditional sweet, zenzai (bean soup) was served.  Guests then took a break before koicha and usucha were served. 

Meal Preparation

Kan ryu seki jo isshu no matsu

Chatsubo and Sumitori display

Seasonal flowers in a ceramic bamboo vase

Nicely burning fire

Robiraki 2014 Kaiki

Aki tatsu ya kawase ni majiru kaze no oto
Autumn has begun;
the sound of the wind
mingles with the river shallows

kan ryu seki jo isshu no matsu
Chill flowing water, above the rock a single pine stands, by Harada Shodo Roshi
Tana: Marujoku, Sotan konomi
Sumitori: Gourd and pine needle by local Seattle artist
Haboki: Black crane feathers
Kan: Iron
Haiki: Unge by Kyoto artist
Hibashi: Kuwa (mulberry)
Kama: Kashiwa (oak leaf) uba guchi (hag mouth) by Keitan Takahashi
Kogo: Hakuji, white celadon, Kotaro Ono
Ko: Umegaka by Shoyeido

Kaiseki: Seasonal foods
Sweets: Zenzai with mochi

Chaire: Daikai, with Rikyubai kando shoha donsu
Chashaku: Gift from Minako Sensei, gomei “michi” the way
Chawan: Black Raku. Sasaki Shoraku, gomei “issei” one voice
Mizusashi- Korean Celadon, by Renkyu Ri
Kensui: Bronze efugo, hawk feeding bag
Futaoki: Bridge to four directions, by Richard Milgrim
Tea: Matsukaze no mukashi from Kambayashi
Natsume: Black Hakeme (brush stroke) lacquer with red maple leaves, by Nakamura Shokka
Omojawan: Red raku, “Kengyo” utsushi, copy of Chojiro's referring to high ranking blind priest
Kaejawan: Shino clay with rice straw glaze from the Imperial Palace grounds, by Tacy Apostolik, gomei “Aibukai” the caressing sea.
Tea: Hana no shiro from Kambayashi
Sweets tray: by Zohiko, gift from Mori sensei
Higashi: Oike Senbei, gift from Sean Toyooka

Oct 29, 2014

Rikyu's futaoki

We have been practicing with a variety of dogu this year in the intermediate classes.  I have a bronze set of the 7 futaoki supposedly favored by Rikyu. (Rikyu no nanashu no futaoki).  A futaoki is a kettle lid rest, and also can be used to rest the hishaku.  These are ways to handle and display the futaoki that I have been taught:

Kani futaoki -- crab lid-rest
The design of this lid-rest was adapted from the brush and sumi ink-stick rests of similar shape and size.  This futaoki is most appropriately used in spring and summer months.  The face of the crab determines the front and is used like any other futaoki by placing it on the tatami mat in line with angle of the hishaku.

Sazae futaoki -- turban shell lid-rest
An actual shell was used originally for this lid-rest, but was  replaced by ones made of metal and clay.  The front of the futaoki is determined by placing the pointed casing of the shell towards the fire.  It is placed in the kensui and used during temae with its underside up.  When displaying it on the tana, it is turned from right to left and placed with its underside down.

Hoyakoro futaoki - chalice shaped incense burner lid-rest
The design for this futaoki was borrowed from a lidded incense container used in Buddhist ceremonial rites.  It is used in both the ro and furo seasons when performing daisu or nagaita sokazari temae (the full display of utensils on the long board).  It is most frequently made of metal in either a five or six pointed cup design.  To determine the front, count the number of points and place one point in front if the number is odd, or two points front if the number is even.  The if this futaoki is closed when it is in the kensui, displayed the daisu or nagaita.  When it sis used it is handled like an old Japanese book -- opened from left to right and closed from right to left.  During koicha temae, the lid-rest is closed when it is not being used to support the kettle lid or hishaku.

Ikkanjin futaoki -- idle person lid-rest
This lid-rest is placed face forward, right side up in the kensui and on the tana and on its side when it is being used to support the lid and hishaku.  The boy at the well is thought of as idle, because he relaxes when he works and works when he rests.  Tu use this futaoki, pick up the hishaku with the left hand, removed the futaoki from the kensui with the right hand.  Replace the hishaku on the kensui, steady the futaoki on the left palm, turn on its side so that the boy's head will face the direction of the fire after it has been placed on the tatami.   Just the opposite of holding his feet to the fire.

 Mistuningyo futaoki -- three Chinese dolls lid-rest
The mitsuningyo futaoki probably pre-dates Rikyu as Chinese celedon examples have been found in Japanese collections.  This lid-rest may be used year-round. The doll dressed differently from the others is placed to the front.

Mitsuba futaoki -- trefoil lid-rest
This lid-rest resembles the edible trefoil plant and is used in the spring and summer months.  In the kensui and during temae, it is placed with the larger side up, with one single leaf to the far side.  To display it on the tana, it is turned over from right to left so that the larger side is down.

Gotoku futaoki -- (five virtues) trivet lid-rest
The gotoku futaoki is also called kakureiga (retreat) because the base is hidden in the ash.  It is used in the ro and furo seasons when the kettle is suspended (tsurigama), or rested on blocks (sukigigama), or directly on the brazier (kirikake buro).  It is placed in the kensui and used during temae with the circle side up and one leg to the far side.  At the end of the temae, it is turned over, right to left, and displayed with the circle down.

This is a good reference for the Rikyu no nanashu no futaoki, and I hope you all have a chance to use them in the future. 

Sep 7, 2014

Study in Japan

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Deadline: November 30, 2014

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