Feb 25, 2012

The hunger for knowledge

One of the things that is a little frustrating to me is that I do not speak Japanese, nor do I read.  I have a number of books in my collection about Chanoyu that are written in Japanese and I hunger to read and get the information from them. All that knowledge and I can't get to it.

But I have not yet learned Japanese and so the frustration I am feeling is of my own making. If it was really important to me to read these books, I'd be learning Japanese and hauling out my dictionary to help me understand what is written in them.  

So many times we get frustrated with life, and rail against all the things stopping us from getting what we want. When in reality, like my frustration with reading and learning more about Chanoyu, it is a frustration of my own making.  I have been studying tea for 30 years and I could be very fluent in Japanese and reading and translating these texts if I had been studying the language for 30 years as well.  Sensei says, "If it is really important to you, you will know what to do and how to get what you want."

For those of you, like me, who do not speak or read Japanese, I have compiled a reading list to get you started in English.  Want to know more?  I suppose you could learn to speak and read Japanese.


  1. Adorable and rousing words, as always Margie sensei... Thank you!

    1. temae,
      Welcome back, thank you for your comment. I hope you enjoy the reading list.

  2. I just came across this post, and I couldn't agree more! I have started learning Japanese, and being able to read in Japanese even a little has really helped, but for me the translation is agonizingly slow. There's so much information out there! But as you say, perhaps it's the frustration that pushes us to learn...

  3. Morgan,
    Thank you for your comment. The new Urasenke Textbook and A Chanoyu Vocabulary are recently published books in English. They are amazingly helpful as is the out of print Chanoyu Quarterly. I also have the Urasenke Newsletters going back to the 1970s with a lot of information in English. And I have also been studying kanji in my practice of calligraphy, so I can recognize about 200 kanji (especially those pertaining to tea), but I don't really have the grammar.

  4. Dear Margie,

    It has been a while since I last wrote a comment on your blog. You may remember we had had conversations about some Kurosawa's movies and a discussion about chatsubo of the Chinese type (generally designated "Ruzon-tsubo"). You answered some of my questions back then and I am still grateful for this. I since have started to follow lessons with Urasenke Switzerland (quite lately, it should be mentioned). As you probably remember, I was then starving to get education and reading everything I could find. Your selection is thus welcome as some books there are not in my collection. I will get them.
    I have recently found this other very scholarly source of info I shall recommend (far too many things are way above my level, but the work seems really of the highest level): http://chanoyu-to-wa.tumblr.com/ (to be read from end to beginning - as usually it seems to be done on tumblr).


    Kind regards,


    1. Dear Philippe,
      Welcome back, and thank you for the comment. And thank you for your recommendation of the chanoyu to wa blog on tumblr. I have already read it and I am in contact with Daniel, the author. It is a wonderful resource and so generous of Daniel to share is hard work in translating these historical documents.