Aug 27, 2014

Summer chakai

The students from Issoan Tea put on their summer chakai last weekend.  I am going to post photos and kaiki.  It was a playful twist to the theme.

Here is a photo of the invitation:

"Stretches for light years,
Satellites transmitting
A mass of pitch black."
by James, published by NASA's Going to Mars Campaign 2013,
collected for the MAVEN Spacecraft launch
Front artwork by Michelle Kottwitz

To celebrate friendship and a sci-fi classic, please join us for a light snack, usucha and sweets
Issoan Tea school
Sunday, August 24th
RSVP to Karla Tomanka or Margie Yap
Kimono not required. Being a trekkie not required.










Edited to add sweets, Tribbles made of an, communicators made of yokan

Star Trek Chakai 2014 Kaiki

Osayu:  Earl Grey tea, hot
Meal:  Three dish rice, miso and raw dish
Scroll: Shikishi "Engage" by Margie Yap
Hana: Seasonal
Hanaire: Bizen hyotan hanging vase
Temae: Arai jakin
Mizusashi:  Found object, metal box
Chashaku: "Live long and prosper"  carved metal family heirloom by George Takei, named by Leonard Nimoy
Futaoki: Cactus skeleton, by Randy Burks
Kensui: Hammered copper
Chamei: "Far point"  local blend
Sweets: Tribbles made of an, communicators made of yokan
Natsume: Black lacquer Rikyu-gata, medium size with stars
Chawan: Glass bowl "Amanogawa" (The Milky Way) by Kunihiko Hirohata
Kaejawan: Gold leaf bowl "Snow storm" by Hirota
Gift: Fish tile

Aug 14, 2014

Travel Matcha

photo courtesy of Masaye Nakagawa

For those who can't go anywhere without their matcha.

Jul 14, 2014

Bamboo Shikainami Basket

We are fortunate to have here in the Pacific NW of the U.S. abundant bamboo growing in yards, in farms, and in nurseries.  One of largest bamboo nurseries in Oregon is Bamboo Garden. They have more than 100 varieties of bamboo and have a well established grove of giant timber bamboo.  The Garden is just up the road from Issoan Tea School and we have taken field trips and learned about the life cycle of bamboo as well as taken a tour of the grounds to look at all kinds of bamboo.

This past weekend, they offered a bamboo basket making workshop taught by Stephen Jensen, who studied basket making at the Oita Prefectural Bamboo Craft and Training Support Center located in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Japan.

Stephen prepared the bamboo strips (it took him a couple of weeks to prepare them for our class), and in a couple of hours, Stephen led us through the steps to make a beautiful Shikainami basket.  It means four ocean wave basket.

The beautiful undulating top and open weave may look simple, but it took us a couple
of hours to finish.   He also provided a demonstration of preparing the materials and some examples of his more intricate work.   I am coveting his sumi kago or charcoal basket among others.

Below are some photos of the process of making this beautiful, simple basket.

 As I said the strips were prepared by Stephen and he had them soaking in a tub of water
to keep them flexible.  We started by laying out the 8 vertical strips
Then weaving the horizontal strips into a grid
checking to make sure the nodes were placed on top of the crossing strips
Then we squished them together to get the correct size of grid
Then we put little keeper strips to hold the grid in place
Then came the hard part of knotting the strips at the top of the basket

All four sides knotted
Here is my attempt after knotting
Then we tucked in every other corner
And wove in the strips of the other corners
Took out the keeper strips and finished our basket

I learned that you have to pay attention to place the strips in the correct order, and in the right holes as you are weaving.  I made mistakes and had to take them out and start again, going in the correct order and placement. Thank you Stephen for a great class.  I hope you will teach more classes.

Jun 22, 2014

Precious Resources

We are blessed in the Pacific Northwest with abundant, clean and good tasting water. We can drink our fill straight from the tap to quench our thirst without bad smells or off taste.  But recently the city of Portland had an alert that e coli was found in the water system and everyone was advised to boil water before drinking, brushing teeth or cooking. It happened during our 35th anniversary event, but at home as well I was reminded what a convenience good, clean water is straight from the tap.

When I was at Midorikai, our final chaji was at a tea room with no running water.  That meant we had to go the the well in the morning and haul two five gallon containers up the hill to the tea house.  Believe me, hauling 5 gallons in kimono uphill is a lot of work.  These 10 gallons were all we had to pre-wash everything, boil the water for tea, water the garden, and fill the tsukubai.  We were very careful with every bit of water and made sure that nothing was wasted. 

It is the same thing with matcha.  We are fortunate to have the convenience of pre-ground tea leaves sealed in an airtight container.  It takes about an hour to grind enough tea for a chaji, so I am sure that if I had to grind it myself, that I would be very careful about spilling and wasting the matcha when I sifted it or transferred it from one container to the another. 

We forget that these things: water, tea, electricity -- are all convenience factors. Part of living the way of tea is to recognized that most of what we use are precious resources and be very careful not to waste anything.  It is good for the environment, good for the planet, good for each other and good for our souls.

Jun 19, 2014

SweetPersimmon Portable Meditation Seat

Wow, our portable meditation seat was featured in Willamette Week camping gear guide for Portland local products.  Here's a link to the article.

 You can purchase your own portable meditation seat at