Nov 26, 2013

Competency in the tea room

Some of my newer students are learning a new temae or procedure for making tea.   One of them said that we haven't spent enough time on it for her to feel competent.  She only did it a few times before we changed to the Ro season and now she feels like she has to start all over again.

Here is the news:  we all feel like we have to start all over again.  In fact, for those of us who have practiced for 25 years and more, we want to get back to the place where we feel like beginners again. Rikyu's poem says, "Learn from one to ten and then return to the original one again."  The change of the seasons reminds us to pay attention to what we are doing. 

Feeling competent in the tea room can lead to feeling complacent -- to phone it in because we know what to do.  My sempai said that as a host, the act of making tea is brand new every single time you do it.  To have the freshness, anticipation and excitement of doing something as if for the very first time, makes it fresh and new for the guests, too.

With the many variations in temae, depending on the guests, the utensils, the seasons, the time, the place, there are literally millions of ways to perform the ceremony.  Who can remember and do each one perfectly?  Does doing the temae perfectly mean you are competent?  Can you do a competent temae without doing it perfectly? 

Can we this apply to real life outside the tea room? There are no instructions for life, so how do you judge how competent you are doing your life?  Do you get to practice life until you feel competent?

Nov 25, 2013

Samurai! at the Portland Art Museum

Samurai armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection will be on display until January 12, 2104

Travel back in time and discover remarkable objects that illuminate the life, culture, and pageantry of the samurai, the revered and feared warriors of Japan—from one of the finest and most comprehensive collections in the world. Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection presents a treasure trove of battle gear made for high-ranking warriors and daimyo (provincial governors) of the 14th through 19th centuries. The exhibition illustrates the evolution of the distinctive appearance and function of samurai equipment through the centuries and examines their history.

During the centuries covered by the exhibition, warfare evolved from combat between small bands of equestrian archers to the clash of vast armies of infantry and cavalry equipped with swords, spears, and even matchlock guns. Arms and armor were needed in unprecedented quantities, and craftsmen responded with an astonishingly varied array of armor that was both functional and visually spectacular, a celebration of the warrior’s prowess. Even after 1615, when the stern rule of the Tokugawa military dictatorship brought an end to battle, samurai families continued to commission splendid arms and armor for ceremonial purposes. Because the social rank, income, and prestige of a samurai family were strictly determined by the battlefield valor of their ancestors, armor became ever more sumptuous as the embodiment of an elite warrior family’s heritage.

Drawn from the renowned Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller collection, Samurai! features the full panoply of warrior regalia, with full suits of armor, helmets and face guards, weapons, horse trappings, and other battle gear. Highlights include helmets of lacquered metal adorned with emblems often inspired by nature—which signaled the status of the wearer, differentiated samurai from each other, and also frightened the enemy on the battlefield; armored horses carrying combat-ready samurai; and a full ensemble of armor and ceremonial jackets worn by the high-ranking samurai of the Mōri family. The Mōri, who traced their roots to famous warriors of the13th century, were among the most powerful warrior families in western Japan. Portland will be the only West Coast venue for Samurai!

Nov 24, 2013

Art Over MacLeay Park

For those of you in Portland, I will be showing all new handbags at Art Over Macleay Park, December 7-8th.  please come and look at the wonderful things for sale.  You just might find the right gift for Christmas and indulge  yourself with a SweetPersimmon leather handbag as well.

Nov 23, 2013

Disaster in the tea room

One of my tea students is a high schooler, and she is just great because I get a fresh perspective from her.  There are less filters and inhibitions, so her questions are always what everyone else is thinking, but dare not ask for fear of looking stupid.

She came up with one I had to deal with a couple of months ago that I would like to share with you.

Question:  What happens when there is a disaster in the tea room?

I was thinking and thinking of the last disaster I had in the tea room, and how I handled it.  There was the Seattle earthquake in 2001.  It was a 6.8 magnitude and did considerable damage to buildings and rocked for what seemed like a long time.  But I was at work when it happened, and since we couldn't get cars out of our underground garage, several of my co-workers walked with me to my house, and I made tea for them to calm everyone down.

With all of the other natural and manmade disasters in the world; hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, oil spills, nuclear; it seemed like a reasonable question to me. However, I decided to probe a little for what was on her mind.

Question: What do you mean by disaster?

Question: Well what happens, for example, when someone spills tea on the tatami mats?

Answer: Well then, they would clean it up!

Nov 22, 2013

From the archives

I have been going back through the archives and hope you will want to review some of the articles there; too.  I cannot believe it has been 6 years of blogging, either.

1 year ago
Tis the Season

2 years ago
Month of Teachers Running

3 years ago
The season for Udon

Trust the process

4 years ago
Back to the Beginning

Senke Jusshoku, ten craft families

5 years ago
Do, Gaku, Jistu revisited

Okeiko, considering the past

25 things chado, the way of tea has taught me

6 years ago
The sounds of the tea room

The language of kimono

Japanese for the tea room

The samurai and the tea master

Nov 21, 2013

Catching up

As promised here are some of the other activities from this fall: (warning another image heavy post.

In October I went to the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle.  There were a lot of tea enthusiasts and presentations and tea tastings.  While in Seattle we visited a few of the tea shops as well.

I was also lucky enough to be invited to a few private tea tastings as well

The annual Aki Masturi was also held at a local Buddhist temple where ikebana was on display, tea was served and sale of local ceramics

Christy sensei came for koshukai (more detail on that in another post).  

I attended another kimono dressing workshop with a teacher that uses only himo, no clips, no elastic.  I felt more secure and everything stayed in place for all day. So now I am getting rid of all of my clips and elastic.

The kumihimo (braided ties for obijime, for example) will be rescheduled to November 30th, but I tried it on my own with my kit for the workshop.  I am getting hooked on it. Can't wait for the workshop.

And last weekend was Robiraki, the opening of the winter hearth. There were 3 seatings in my little 4.5 mat room.  Sweet zenzai for the sweets, koicha and usucha. Now is the time for the warmth of the ro in the tea room.  Thank you to Karla who assisted with the preparations and helped the younger students get dressed in kimono.


Whew! that's a lot of photos. And we are not done yet.  Please look at the left sidebar to see other activities for the rest of the year.

Nov 19, 2013

Activities at Issoan

For my blog readers, I apologize for not posting.  It seems like I do this periodically  - get out of the habit of blogging and then let it go for a while.  I will do better in the future.

Let's see, we have been busy this summer.  To begin with we have had a workshop or special event since August.  (Image heavy post follows)  Here are some photos from the chashaku carving and bamboo hanaire making workshop

Then we had a chabana class

And then in September we had a kaiseki cooking class

Also in September we had Nomura-san from Soujuan kimono who came to exhibit his art kimono and sell kimono and accessories. Kageyama-san came too and she gave kimono dressing lessons as well,

Whew, that's a lot, but we still have more to come....I'll post them tomorrow.