Jun 29, 2007

Tea in the Pearl

Coming up on Thursday July 5, we'll be presenting Japanese Tea Ceremony as part of Portland's first Thursday celebration in the Pearl District. We will be featuring summertime tea ceremony in July and August. Drop in and refresh yourself with a Japanese sweet and green tea.

Please join me Thursday, July 5 from 6:00 to 7:30 at

Dai Ichi International Inc.
925 NW Lovejoy
Portland, OR 97209

P.S. It's not a formal tea ceremony, just a presentation with explanation about tea ceremony and Japanese culture. See you there.

Jun 28, 2007

As I live and breathe

living life
at the speed of blur,
take a breath

That seems to be my life right now -- a blur. But I just attended a seminar on breathing. Breathing is something we do without thinking 24,000 times a day. We can go without food or water for a week to 10 days, but you can count the minutes on one hand we can go without breathing.

In this seminar, we learned techniques on how to breathe consciously and with intention to enhance our health, improve mental and athletic performance, improve emotional well being, and deepen spirituality. It's all as simple as learning how to improve our breathing.

Al Lee and Don Campbell have a book coming out this fall about breathing, As I live and breathe. Look for it. In the meantime, check out their website to learn a few breathing techniques to reduce stress in your life.

Jun 25, 2007

The Haiku Recordings

About a year and a half ago, I assigned myself a project. I wanted to write a haiku a day for a year. Everyone knows about haiku from grade school, 3 lines with 5-7-5 syllables in each line respectively. Partly it was the discipline of writing something every day, partly it was to improve my writing. I wanted to write more expressively and more compactly.

I completed my year of writing haiku and have 365 haiku, plus a few more because I couldn't stop for a week or so. During the winter months, I was having a hard time and getting bored with writing so I revised my own rules and wrote poems that were 3-5-3 syllables. That was really tough. I also employed a writing support group to help me get the poems done. We met once a week and I had to show my week's worth of poems for critique.

A very good friend of mine, Kelley Baker (he's the Angryfilmmaker, check him out) who knows a thing or two about sound recording because he did the sound design for all of Gus Van Sant's movies, arranged to record the haiku with a few of his friends. Don Campbell and Al Lee (their book, As I live and breathe, will be out this fall, check them out, too) both are musicians and have recording equipment and know how. We met at Don's house and he set up a microphone. Kelley, his daughter Fiona, Al, Don, Don's wife Lee and I spent the evening reading and recording haiku. We cut little slips of paper with the poems on them, threw them into a hat and pulled them at random and read them.

I am still so excited about this recording session because I have never done anything like this before. Soon, Kelley and I will edit them, mix them, perhaps add sound effects or music. When we get done, I'll have a CD I can put on my site, SweetPersimmon.com.

So check out Kelley's site and check out Al and Don's site. Let them know you heard from them here.

Jun 13, 2007

First Thursday Tea Ceremony

Last Thursday at Dai Ichi International travel agency, we held a tea ceremony. They have a 3 mat, raised platform tatami room. Anyone could come for a Japanese sweet, observe the tea ceremony, and drink tea -- no charge. We had some special guests from Japan and they did oragami, there also was wine and other refreshments.

I want to thank my friends who showed up and the people who stayed to watch. We had a good time.

If you are in the neighborhood, next time on First Thursday, July 5th, we'll be there. Come in for a sweet and tea. Come in and talk about Japan. Come in and relax from the hustle and bustle of the street. We welcome you.

Dai Ichi International Inc.
925 NW Lovejoy
Portland, OR 97209

Jun 4, 2007

Wonderful Gift

As a final note to the tea gathering last week, one of my guests at brought a bottle of fine sake to the gathering as a gift. Yesterday, he called me up and said that he had forgotten to bring something with him. He is a calligrapher and as a gift he brought me three shikishi (poem cards) that he had written in kanji himself. You can see the photos of them here.

The first one says: ichigo ichie. It has been translated as one lifetime, one meeting. This is a famous saying for tea and is often hung in the alcove for tea gatherings. One lifetime, one meeting is a way of saying that now is the moment. This meeting is a once in a lifetime encounter, so be here now to make the most of it because this meeting will never happen the same way again, it can never be recaptured. There may be the same people, but the circumstances will have changed. Often when we spend time with someone, we are doing other things rather than being with that person. We talk on our cell phones or think about what we have to do, or make lists in our head. Even if we are talking with the other person, they can tell when we don't have our mind on the conversation. Ichigo ichie reminds us to be present with people.

The second shikishi reads, kanza matsukaze o kiku. Translated it says, sit quietly and listen to the wind in the pine trees.

The third shikishi says, rika isshi no haru. Translation: in spring, flowers bloom (silently) on a bough of the pear tree.

All three of these shikishi are appropriate to hang in the tea room for tea gatherings.

I am so excited by these gifts, and I will be sure to invite him back for another tea gathering. Perhaps I will hang one of these shikishi in the alcove to surprise him.