Sep 30, 2012

Movement within the tea room

One of the things Machida Gyotei sensei taught us about movement within the tea room is that when you are wearing kimono, only your feet are showing, so you want to make sure that you are walking, turning, sitting and standing in a way that doesn't look awkward and call additional attention to your feet.  Here are some of the points he emphasized:

  1. Walk in the center of the tatami
  2. Don't drag your feet, but lightly skim the tatami to make a slight swish when you walk
  3. You should walk in the tea room as if you were trying not to kick up dust
  4. When sitting down, make sure your toes and heels are together
  5. Likewise when you are standing up, make sure your heels are together so people behind you can't see all the way up your kimono.
  6. Stand up as if a string was pulling on your head straight up
  7. When turning from the temaeza, move your heel back at 45 degrees but don't separate your feet too much
  8. Sit in front of your guest to serve sweets
  9. Move slightly to the side before standing up in front of someone.  Slide straight back with one foot before turning away

One of the reasons we don't step on the black lines separating tatami mats is because in olden times, tatami did not cover the entire floor.  Only nobles sat on tatami.  So there was a change in elevation between the tatami and floor.  If you stepped on the black line, your foot would be partly on tatami and partly on the floor, very awkward.

Most of the movement within the tea room makes sense, and as Machida Gyotei sensei says, "try your best to follow these guidelines, but it won't be the end of the world if you miss something."  

Sep 26, 2012

Claiming the Prize

One of the exercises we did while Machida Gyotei sensei was here was Ko-tauki kagetsu.   I have never had the chance to do this one before, and it was something I was excited to participate in.

In regular kagetsu, there are 5 participants and 4 bowls of usucha are made.   The roles of the players are chosen by lot by picking bamboo cards called fuda from a pouch to determine who makes tea and who drinks tea.

In ko-tsuki kagetsu, the first guest chooses an incense from 3 different ones, and prepares the burner so all of the participants can smell (listen to) the incense.  Each incense packet has the name of that particular incense written on it, and becomes the theme for the kagetsu.  Our chosen incense was named, "16th night moon" or "the day after the full moon."   After everyone has finished listening to the incense, the participants move from the 8 mat room to the four and a half mat room and make 3 bowls of usucha just like basic kagetsu.  At the end, the participants all move back to the 8 mat room and the host brings in a portable desk and brush and ink set and prepares the record of the kagetsu with the participants names, the name of the incense and then everyone composes and writes down their poem based on the theme.

After everyone has written their poem, they are read aloud and commented upon, and lots are drawn for the prize -- the record of participants and poems.  And guess what?  I won the prize as you can see above.  Such a wonderful prize for a chado geek like me.

Sep 24, 2012

Confessions of a Chado geek

It has been more than a week since we had an intensive workshop here in Portland with Machida Gyotei sensei and we are grateful to Urasenke and Oiemoto for sending him to Portland.   I don't remember the last time we had a Gyotei sensei in Portland, but I have studied with them while I was in Kyoto, Japan and Seattle.

It always takes me awhile to process what was presented because it is like drinking from a firehose, there is so much information presented in such a short time.

As always we start the seminar with warigeiko, back to basics of folding the fukusa.  Though each time we do it, I learn something new.  Machida Gyotei sensei teaches in a little different manner than others I have studied with.   He asks questions designed to make you think deeply about what you are doing.  For example, he asked us the first day, "Why to you fold the fukusa in this manner to purify utensils?   Did you know that the fukusa is not exactly square?  Why to you think that is?

We studied from the very basic usucha procedures to the most advanced daisu  procedures in the course of three very full days.   On the third day in the afternoon, we practiced kagetsu, including two that I have not done before ko-tsuki kagetsu, and yojohan kagetsu (kagetsu in the four and a half mat room).

Machida Gyotei-sensei  offered practical advice in his lecture, Movement within the tea room, and got into some very philosophical aspects of Buddhist and Chinese daisu procedures, how to handle precious utensils and things to think about for later.  All with a charming and funny demeanor.

It was overwhelming and inspirational at at the same time.   And yes, I really needed that hot tub after sitting on my knees for three days.

Sep 21, 2012

October Workshops

Please don't forget to make reservations for our October workshops:

Saturday, October 6, 10 am- Kimono alteration class, including taking measurement for proper fit of kimono. Issoan Tea School.
Saturday, October 13, 10 am - Field trip to Bamboo Gardens, North Plains.  Meet at Issoan Tea School at 9:30 for carpooling.  A tour of the garden, cultivation tips, working bamboo for vases and tea scoops are scheduled.
Sunday, October 14th 10 am - Kimono alteration continued.  Meet at Kate's house, bring sewing machine if you have one.
Saturday, October 20 12:30 pm - Public demonstration at the Portland Japanese Garden
Sunday October 28 1:30 pm - Kagetsu at Mieko sensei's house.  Sumi tsuki kagetsu planned..

Call Margie at 503-645-7058 or email to reserve your spot

Sep 17, 2012

Fall Introduction to Chado Class

The Fall Beginners Class: Introduction to Chado, The Japanese Tea Ceremony is now forming.

Students will learn the etiquette of how to be a guest at a tea ceremony, the basic order of the tea ceremony and how to whisk green powdered ceremonial tea. Students will also participate in Japanese tea ceremonies.  An overview of Japanese aesthetics and how tea has influenced Japanese culture will be presented.  Students will also be introduced to tea ceramics, calligraphy, kimono dressing, and incense ceremony. They will also be introduced to zazen meditation and discuss how to put tea practice into every day life.

Meets, Thursdays 6-8:30, for 10 weeks starting October 4, 2012
Fee: $250, includes all equipment, tea, sweets and supplies for all classes including calligraphy, kimono and incense.

We have a new SE Portland venue:

Portland Tea Enthusiasts' Alliance
828 Southeast Ash Street, #204
Portland, OR 97214
To register contact
Marjorie Yap, Instructor
Phone: 503.645.7058,

Alternate contact while I am out of town

(971) 258-2832