Ueda Soko Ryu

Though our podcast, TeaLife.Audio, I got in contact with a teacher for the Ueda Soko Ryu of Tea. I have wanted to learn more about the warrior type of Tea since forever. Early in November Adam came to Norway to teach Stig and I Ueda style of Tea.

Before this weekend I had very litle knowledge of the Ueda school, most of what I knew came from our discussion with Adam in episode 44 of TeaLife Audio and the tea duet. Adam came on a Thursday early in November. We started the tea weekend with him serving us usucha, and I was stunned at all the differences. I had seen some of the differences in the aforementioned YouTube video, but once I saw it live I saw so many more differences. The order of the temae is identical to Urasenke, enter the rom, purify natsume then chashaku, clean chawan, make tea and clean up in reverse.

I used to say that I could see if it was a Ura- or Omotesenke temae before the host 14962789_10154518361405977_6479442786093834497_nenters the tea room, just by the
placement of the mizusashi and the bow in the door. In this case you can see the different even as the door is opened. The way the door i pushed open is distinctly
different in Ueda Ryu. Right hand opens the door the first few centimetre, just as in Urasenke, but then the door is pushed open holding your left hand flatt in a cutting motion parallel to the floor.

There are too many difference to go though all of them, but two very distinct ones are the folding of fukusa and holding hishaku in a resting position. The resting position can bee seen in the photos included in this post.

During the weekend we recorded three episodes of TeaLife Audio. These will be episodes 48, 49 and 50.

During the weekend I got to see a few great temaes, and do some my self. I enjoyed the way Tabidansu is handled in Ueda Ryu. The middle shelf is taken all the way out and placed on the upper shelf. That way you have much easier access to the mizusashi.

We concluded the weekend by having a chaji that we jokingly called two-host-no-guest. During this chaji we did Urasenke style tsubo kazari, showing off the storage teajar. Then we opened up the jar that had been sealed up since my hatsudate early in 2016. Adam selected the koicha he wanted to drink. I poured out usucha and found the selected koicha, as shown on the photo underneath.

We concluded the weekend with a Kuchi-kiri chaji
We concluded the weekend with a Kuchi-kiri chaji

After resealing the chatsubo we exited the tea room and took turns grinding the koicha and having our meal. Once we had enough koicha we headed back to the tea room and I did Ueda style koicha followed by Adam doing Ueda style usucha. I enjoyed the event very much.

More photos from the weekend

 

Begin with Ryakubon

Back in 2009, I wrote a post titled Why begin with Ryakubon. Here, I wondered whether it would not be better for new students to start learning Irekodate instead of the traditional Ryakubon. The ease of transition from Irekote to Hakobi, and my own experience of starting with Hakobi usucha were my main reasons for preferring Irekodate as a starting point.

Ryakubon vs IrekodateRyakubon vs Irekodate

Now I’m actually considering taking on some new students, and this made me reconsider the topic. Earlier this year, I timed most of my teamaes for a while. I found that Ryakubon takes me 7 minutes to perform, while Irekodate takes 15 minutes. I was very surprised that Irekodate takes twice as long. I always imagined the difference to be much less.

I also made a rough list of the main warigeiko topics related to each of the temaes. This was just a way for me to compare the complexity of the temae. As you can see from my list, Irekodata has almost twice as many warigeiko points as Ryakubon.

These findings convinced me that there are good reasons to start with Ryakubon. I decided to stick to this traditional startingpoint for learning Tea, and I will start new students off with Ryakubon.

 

 

Why not stay with one temae

DSL = Days since I last did this temae, TT = Total times I have done this temae
DSL = Days since I last did this temae, TT = Total times I have done this temae

When answering my survey, a reader asked why I keep changing the temae rather than repeating the same one until I’ve mastered it. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Since I’ve started keeping records of all the temae I do, I have wanted to try to perform every teamae at least once each season. A quick glance at the table on the right, reveals that I have a ways to go with this endeavor. The DSL (Days since I last did this temae) column shows that there are 11 temae that I have not performed for over five hundred days! Most of these I have neglected for good reasons, such as that they require too many participants etc.

If we ignore those “long forgotten” temae,  I am proud to say I met my goal of having done the rest of the temae at least once during Ro season. Prior to 2013, I only did Tea a few times each season. With 32 different temaes, it stands to reason that there was no way I could repeat any single one many times if I were to have the slighted hope of getting through them all.

The chart below shows the number of temae I have performed each month going back to 2002. I’m thrilled that my numbers have soared as a result of my Morning Tea project. Now that I make Tea every day, I have occasionally performed one temae over and over again to improve my mastery of it. Still, most days I do a different temae than the day before.

This chart show how many temae I have done in any given month.
This chart show how many temae I have done in any given month.

 

 

 

 

One of the reasons that I keep changing temae often, is that I am easily bored. Especially if I do the easier temaes several days in a row, I find that I just don’t enjoy the experience as much. Ryakubon has been a victim of just that. When travelling, I usually bring dogu for either ryakubon or chabako. If I bring ryakubon dogu, there is no variation in the temaes no matter how long the trip lasts. Often, I get restless to try a different temae pretty soon.

I do have some temae “streaks” where I have kept with the same temae over longer periods. If you look at the next table (showing my longest streaks) you’ll quickly realize that for me, variation is important. Most of the streaks I do have, are part of my morning tea project.
So, to answer my curious reader: By changing temaes often, I ensure that I’ll do (almost) all of them each season, and it also helps make the Tea experience more varied and enjoyable.
The longest temae streaks
The longest temae streaks

 

 

 

 

Warsaw 2014

Okeiko 22nd of March 2014
Okeiko 22nd of March 2014

I came to Warsaw fairly late Friday evening, so no practice then.

Saturday was a Tea day. We started quite early. Another student and I did temae, Daitenmoku and Wakin. Then we spent a litle while swapping out the electric ro for a propper charcoal one. They are planning to use sumi for next weeks Rikyu-ki, and wanted the charcoal ro in a bit in advance.

After lunch one student did Sumi. I haven’t seen or done charcol-temae in many many years. According to my records I last did Sumi in 2008. Truly, I had forgotten most of the temae. All the better to have the opportunity to watch it. As it was progressing parts of the temae came back to me, but still it felt like it was a brand new temae. I guess I have to go home and studdy sumi.

In the evening we wanted to go to a nice resturant for our evening meal, but with the teachers baby that proved difficult. However they were able to convince the resturant to let us buy take-out.

The charcol box after the temae
The charcol box after the temae

The resturant speciallized in traditional Polish cusine. Which was another nice expereince. Apparently both duck and rib are something they are very good at.

Sunday more people attended Okeiko. We started the day with kagetsu. Again a temae that I had not seen or done in a long while. Last time was june 2005, and it probably was not Sumi Tsuki Kagetsu either.

I did not do any temae after kagetsu, but I got to be guest for a few. I was very happy that the last temae of the day was Gyou-no-Gyou. This was my first time seeing it.

Thanks to the teachers and students at Sunshinkai for a wonderfull weekend.