May 30, 2014

Upcoming events at Issoan Tea school

June 8 - Sunday, 10:00 am, Kimono Exchange and Dogu sale Issoan Tea School

June 14-15 Saturday and Sunday, Seattle trip for Bellevue Art Museum chakai and Origami exhibition, and Sunday koshukai (intensive study) with Bonnie-sensei.  If you are interested in this please let me know by June 7, so we can arrange carpooling and lodging.  No Saturday classes

June 21 -Saturday, Public tea demo at the Portland Japanese Garden, 1:00- 300 pm.  Saturday class at the Japanese Garden at noon.  Let me know if you can attend.

June 22 - Sunday, Sweets workshop 10:00 am, at Issoan Tea school

June 29 - Sunday, Kagetsu 1:30 pm at Mieko sensei's house

July 13 -Sunday Yukata making class at Kate's house.  (more details to come)

July 14- August 4 - Issoan Tea School closed.  Please enjoy your summer vacations

July 27 - Sunday, Kagetsu at Mieko sensei's house

August 2 - Saturday, Obon Festival 3-9 pm, Oregon Buddhist Temple

August 3 - Sunday, Seichuki Memorial, Henjyoji Temple

August 5 - Tuesday, 10:00 am, Classes resume at Issoan Tea School

August 24 - Sunday, Issoan Chakai at Issoan Tea School

August 31 - Sunday, Kagetsu at Mieko Sensei's house

May 6, 2014

Spring Break in Kyoto

My husband and I had the delightful opportunity to fly to Kyoto for a week at the end of March. We were fortunate enough to have scheduled a trip when the sakura blossoms were just beginning to come out. It was so enchanting to walk through the busy streets or along the river and view the beautiful blooms.

I also counted myself lucky to be in Kyoto during the annual Rikyu-ki event. Margie sensei had emailed the Urasenke school to inform them of my coming visit to Kyoto and they had graciously extended me an invitation. I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous. This would be my first formal event in Kyoto and I was terrified that I wouldn’t know what to do, where to go or how to conduct myself.

Several days before Rikyu-ki, I had prearranged time for aisatsu for Oiemoto and his family. This way Kevin was able to see the Chado Research Center and look at the famous dogu on display there. We were served tea and I was able to feel welcome, to sit and be calm. Bruce sensei took the time to meet with us and I was able to ask the questions I needed to feel more prepared.

Taking the Time to Notice Things About Others
I had my first realization that day in regards to how tea people (or anyone who has the Tea Spirit) take information and respond to it. The tea bowl I drank from that afternoon had daffodils on it, which I had mentioned in my introductory letter. It was like a message to me that they noticed what I had written and it was like a gentle hand reaching out and comforting me: telling me that there could be no mistakes made; that I was accepted and a part of this wonderful family in my own way. It was such a small thing and yet meant so much to me. So much! What a small step that someone took to provide a bright beacon of friendship and welcome to someone they hardly knew.

The Day of Rikyu-ki
The big day arrived and I spent an hour dressing in my kimono, making sure that I was presentable. Just 24 hours ago I had been suffering from food poisoning and I was still feeling weak and reeling. I took a cab to the research center and joined the group of Midorikai students waiting. I was honored to sit with two former Midorikai students who assisted me in knowing what to do (or not to do, as the case may be). We became friends and they helped me immensely not only to feel more comfortable but to field questions for my insatiable curiosity of Everything-Chado.

During the event I felt comfortable being with my sempai and participating as guest. I couldn’t understand much of the Japanese and I had to save many of my sweets because of my tummy (thank goodness for kimono sleeves!), but I was just so happy to be there.

You Matter
This event made me realize that it was the small gestures that make tea worth sharing with others. In Western society, it would be like recommending a book that you thought someone might enjoy. Everything has meaning. I also realized that it’s not about JUST your guests but also about you, as their host. Sure, your guests matter when you plan a chaji, but you (as host) also matter to the event. Before in any other tea situation, I would often try to blend in to the wall as teishu and “let the guests enjoy themselves.” I would make it only about the tea. We are here to drink tea, nothing else. But that wasn’t the spirit that was enlivened in me after this event. The assistants made tea interesting and fun. They gave life to the scrolls and utensils. They told stories that made us laugh. I encourage us to not be bogged down by tea politics and the weight of our daily lives but rise above it to take our tea practice as a time to be with friends and like-minded people: To share life and peace through a single bowl of tea. To live in the moment and be grateful that we are here now and it will never be the same ever again.

Even after studying it for five years, I’ve only just grazed the surface. The supreme highlight of the event for me was being able to meet Hounsai Daisosho and having him shake my hand. A greater gift couldn’t have been given to anyone!