Japanese Tea Ceremony

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Hello, everyone! I hope you are well and Typhoon Hagibis is not landing in Japan! It’s been raining a lot here in Wales as well but we had a beautiful weather last Sunday, which was great as we took part in a fun event in Penarth, a coastal town next to Cardiff. The event was held at one of the rugby clubs and I was invited to do Japanese tea ceremony demonstrations for children, aged around 8 and 9. I had an absolutely wonderful experience with them.

Today I would like to introduce my old blog post from 2014 talking about the Chabako tea ceremony I performed at the event. I hope you like it!

皆さま、こんにちは。お元気ですか? 台風19号の影響が最小であることを祈っています。こちらウェールも毎日雨続きですが、先週日曜は素晴らしいお天気に恵まれました。この日は隣町ペナースのラグビークラブのキッズやパパママに向けて日本文化を紹介するイベントがあり、私は茶道のデモンストレーションを担当。子供達と本当に楽しい素敵な時間を過ごしました。


Japanese tea ceremony

This particular Chabako tea ceremony serving is called Hana, meaning flower in Japanese and is demonstrated in a picnic style. It’s unique with the main utensils wrapped in a pouch, called a shifuku, then set in a wooden box - Chabako. The fabric in the photo is called Ichigo Nishiki, which means Strawberry Brocade.

The design is one of the famous named fabrics, Meibutsu-gire, which were brought from either China or Persia between the Kamakura (1185-1333) and Edo (1603-1868) periods. In the tea ceremony, this design is used for pouches and hanging scroll decorations. The most renowned version of Ichigo Nishiki, is called Kiku Ichigo, Chrysanthemum Strawberry, and was handed down by the Maeda clan in Kaga, Kanazawa area, present Ishikawa prefecture, during the Edo period. It seems the pattern is based on the wild strawberry, cut in half ?

袋物が楽しい茶箱花点前。茶箱に忍ばせた棗や茶碗の仕覆、茶杓入れの紋様に"苺錦 ( いちごにしき ) "という可愛らしい名前が付いています。 鎌倉時代から江戸時代にかけ、主に中国から渡来した "名物裂" と呼ばれる織物のデザイン。茶の湯においては、仕覆や掛け物の表装に使われます。特に加賀百万石前田家伝来の "菊苺" が有名との事。 木いちごに見立てているそうですが、どうも苺を横にカットした際の断面が紋様になっているよう?

Japanese tea ceremony Chabako

When I practice tea ceremony at home, I'd invite someone in my imagination to join me because I thought it was merrier if I had a guest. The other day I had Natsume Soseki, a Japanese writer I greatly respect from the Meiji period 1868 -1912, who is famous for his work "I am a cat".

Haiku, our big baby cat, always comes to sit on my lap regardless of the situation. Even if I'm in the middle of the tea ceremony with my important guest (though he was only an illusional), he just does what he wants. This certainly must have looked very odd, but I continued practicing. It was so kind and understanding of Soseki-sensei, he kept silent and stayed with me. This is also why I respect him. Of course it's only an illusion.

Natsume Soseki is known as having a sweet tooth as well. He lived in London for a couple of years at the beginning of the 20th century and he was quite modern - he was fond of biscuits and ice cream, which were very uncommon in that period. Yet he also loved Wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets. One of the most typical wagashi, Yokan, is wonderfully described by Soseki in his work as follows.

Not that I particularly want to eat it, but that velvety, dense texture, with its semi-translucent glow, makes it a work of art by any standards. I especially enjoy the sight of yokan that has a slightly blue-green sheen, like a mixture of gemstones and alabaster and this bluish yokan piled on the plate glistens as if it has just this moment been born from within the celadon, so that my hand almost twitches with the urge to reach out and stroke it.

Kusamakura ( Grass Pillow ) by Soseki Natsume, 1906, translated by Meredith McKinney

Beautiful, isn’t it?

日中、一人では寂しいので妄想でお客様をご招待。 先日は大好きな最も尊敬する明治の文豪、夏目漱石先生にお越し頂きました。お客様がいらしても ( 無論、私の頭の中の話ですが ... )、正座をしていれば、お構いなしに甘えて来るのが俳句。膝の上に大きな猫がドンと乗ったままでお点前。可笑しな空気漂う、とんでもない光景ですが気にせず続けます。

そして、こんな時にも稽古に只お付き合い下さる漱石先生。先生のこういう所 (妄想ですが ... ) も大好き。

さて先生、甘党としても有名です。二年余りの倫敦生活も経験され、ハイカラさんでいらっしゃいます。ビスケットやアイスクリームに目がなかったご様子。 とは言え、無論和菓子だって大好きです。ちなみに … 漱石先生にかかれば、羊羹は次のように描写されます。

余はすべての菓子のうちでもっとも羊羹が好だ。別段食いたくはないが、あの肌合が滑らかに、緻密に、しかも半透明に光線を受ける具合は、どう見ても一個の美術品だ。ことに青味を帯びた煉上げ方は、玉と蝋石の雑種のようで、はなはだ見て心持ちがいい。のみならず青磁の皿に盛られた青い煉羊羹は、青磁のなかから今生れたようにつやつやして、思わず手を出して撫でて見たくなる。- 夏目漱石 「草 枕」 -

Haiku 2014

Haiku 2014

The 24 Seasons is ‘Cold Dew’ and the 72 Micro Seasons is ‘Wild Geese Return’.

Here is what Sei Shonagon says about autumn in the Pillow Book, the oldest essay in Japan around the late 10th century.

In autumn, the evening – the blazing the sun has sunk very close to the mountain rim, and now even the crows, in threes and fours or twos and threes, hurrying to their roost, are a moving sight. Still more enchanting is the sight of a string of wild geese in the distant sky, very tiny. And oh how inexpressible, when the sun has sunk, to hear in the growing darkness the wind, and the song of autumn insects.

The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, circa 990-1002, translated by Meredith Mckinney

Thank you very much for visiting my blog! Have a lovely weekend ♫

二十四節気は寒露。72候 は鴻雁来 (こうがんきたる)。枕草子の一節を記します。

秋は夕暮れ。夕日のさして山の端いと近うなりたるに、烏の寝どころへ行く とて、三つ四つ、二つ三つなど、飛びいそぐさへあはれなり。まいて雁などの つらねたるが、いと小さく見ゆるはいとをかし。日入りはてて、風の音、虫の 音など、はたいふべきにあらず。