Jun 30, 2011

SweetPersimmon at the Hollywood WingDing

Meet us at the Whole Foods Hollywood WingDing on Saturday July 2nd from 12-5 pm.  They'll be closing off 43rd Avenue between Whole Foods and the Bank in NE  Portland, and making a party of it.

Besides the Hot Wing Throwdown competition (vote the best wings), there's going to be a beer garden, live music and exhibits from HandMade NW artisans (of which SweetPersimmon is one).  I'll be featuring handbags in my spacious 10 x 10 booth.

Admission is free to the public. Wings are $.50 each with a minimum $2 purchase for voting ballot.10% of the proceeds will benefit the Hollywood Theater.

Hollywood Whole Foods WingDing
Saturday, July 2nd, 12-5 pm
NE 43rd Avenue (between Sandy and Tillamook)
Parking available in the Whole Foods Garage
enter on NE 44th between Tillamook and Sandy.

Jun 24, 2011

Raku pottery demo

I have scheduled an opportunity for students who are interested in pottery.  Specifically, Raku pottery.   My good friend Richard Brandt will be giving a lecture on the history of Raku and giving a demo of firing a black rakku style teabowl.  Very exciting.

Students, please don't miss this opportunity. July 1 at 7:30-9:30 and PCC SE Center.  Please sign up via email to me or let me know at class next week.

Update:  The lecture will be at 6:00 pm with the demo at 7:30.  Please let me know if you are coming.

Jun 20, 2011

No class again this week

Dear students,
I regret to inform you all that there will not be class again this week.  Please be patient while we deal with this infestation.  And to my guest Terue, if you read this post please call me to reschedule your visit.  I apologize for the inconvenience to you.  We will schedule a double make up in July.  Please enjoy the summer evening on Thursday.


Jun 16, 2011

The deep desire to learn -- Rikyu hyakushu

こころざし 深き 人には いくたびもあはれみ 深く 奥ぞ 教ふる
Kokorozashi fukaki hito niwa ikutabi mo awareme fukaku okuzo oshifuru.

To the student who has a deep desire to learn the secrets of chanoyu the teacher should spare no effort.
One should spare no effort in teaching those with a deep desire to learn.
You should many a time compassionately impart the inner teachings to one who has a deeply willing mind.

I'd like to comment on this from both the student's perspective as well as being a teacher.  When I was an intermediate student, I was so hungry for anything I could get my hands on in learning more about Chado.   And I must say that all of my teachers and all of my sempai have been more than generous to teach me what they know.   The world of chado is so vast, and so deep, that nobody can know all there is to know about it.  As students, we are attracted to certain aspects and not others.   But every single teacher, sempai and student have taught me about the way of tea.  They have taught me sometimes without knowing that I was learning.   Even when I was not a good student and not paying attention in class, sensei would still try to teach me over and over again.  I'd copy my sempai in the mizuya and try to pay attention when they were explaining things to other students.

As a teacher, when a student is hungry like that, it is a joy to teach them.   Sometimes a comment in class will motivate a student to seek even more knowledge, skill or technique.  When students ask me for extra help, I always try to give them extra attention. I love the way of tea so much, that I want to share as much as I can with others who want to learn.  It is even inspiring to me to have a student who is motivated to learn.  By passing on what I know, the next generation of students will be able to carry on the tradition that love.

Jun 14, 2011

The summer cuckoo

 natsu no yo no
fusu ka to sureba
naku hitokoe ni
akuru shinonome

On a summer night,
no sooner have I lain down
than the first faint light
of dawn appears -- heralded
by a cuckoo's single song


The hototogisu is a kind of Japanese cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus). The song of the hototogisu traditionally signaled the arrival of summer. In other tales, the mournful cry of a hototogisu in a lonely wood was associated with the longing of the spirits of the dead to return to their loved ones still living. The hototogisu has long been a popular subject in Japanese literature and poetry, making appearances in both The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book, and practically comprising an entire genre of hototogisu haiku. It is a convenient word in that it contians 5 syllables and when you add yama(mountain)  it comprises 7 syllables. 

When the poet Masaoka Shiki was 16, he went to Tokyo to study literature at the best university in the country. He was admitted in 1890, but suddenly became ill at the age of 23. He was diagnosed with lung disease. That night he wrote the following haiku:

It seems to me as if
A little cuckoo could have come flying
To aim at deutzia flowers

The hototogisu was said to spit blood when chirping - a synonym of tuberculosis. Since his diagnosis, he used his pen name, Shiki. Shiki is another name for hototogisu, meaning "little cuckoo". He founded the literary magazine Hototogisu and patron to a number of young poets, Shiki played a leading role in the revival of the traditional waka and haiku forms. He advocated a realistic, descriptive poetic style, which he regarded as the original spirit of Japanese verse, and his poetic treatises greatly influenced the Japanese literary world in its quest to define modern Japanese modes of expression.

There are no less than nine ways to write "hototogisu" using Japanese kanji, only some of which have meanings that actually reflect the bird they name:

杜鵑, "woods cuckoo"
子規, "egg measuring" (may suggest the bird's practice of laying eggs in the nest of other birds)
時鳥, "bird of time"
不如帰, "homelessness"
蜀魂, "spirit of Szechuan"
霍公鳥, "speedy cuckoo bird"
田鵑, "rice field cuckoo"
沓手鳥, "shoe hand bird"
杜宇, "woods' roof"

 There is also a flower that can be used for chabana called hototoguisu, supposedly named because the speckled petals are reminiscent of the breast of the bird.

Jun 10, 2011

The hunded poems of Rikyu

I have been meaning to talk about the 100 teaching poems of Rikyu, (Rikyu Hyakushu) and indeed, there are references scattered throughout this blog to them; all you have to do is search on Rikyu, but I will attempt to post the 100 poems with some thoughts on each one, including one or more translations. I will tag them so that when you search on Rikyu Hyakushu, they will come up all together.

Often the first poem quoted is

Sono michi ni iran to omou kokokoro koso wagami nagara no shisho narikere

The very heart which wants to enter the way is the best teacher.


To have the mind to enter this path is, indeed to have an inherent teacher.

I wrote about this poem previously: Who is the best teacher.

That is not to say that you know more than your sensei, or that you should tell your sensei what and how to teach you, but it is through your own desire to learn that you will come to know tea.  No matter how good a teacher you have, you will not learn it if you are not motivated. The way of tea is hard as is any endeavor worth pursuing your whole life.  You must have the heart and the mind to pursue the way of tea.

Jun 1, 2011

Tea ceremony demo at the Supper Club

We will be doing a tea ceremony demo this Sunday at the Special Snowflake Supper Club, a roving dining series.  This month's theme imagines what would be served if "a Buddhist monk and a European explorer sat down and shared a meal." Dishes are likely to include Tibetan barley bread, roasted wild boar leg, water buffalo jerky, and saffron-infused fish pie. The event starts off with “Cocktails and Commerce”, during which guests can “promote their cottage industries and small businesses then proceeds to the feast. We will provide part of the entertainment.

 When: 7 pm., Sunday June 05 | $40, limited number of $25 seats for volunteers
Where: Bakery Bar, 2935 NE Glisan St.
Reservations: Contact Heather Julius at snowsupper@gmail.com

Edited to add: There are only 20 seats left at the supper club.
For more information go to: The Special Snowflake Supper Club