In this series of posts I will be making short movies of people, mostly yours truly, making Tea in unusual places. I hope you will enjoy these movies as an inspiration to do Tea outdoors. Please leave feedback using the comment field.
Tea in Unusual Places 1 – Lindesnes
Lindesnes is the southernmost point of Norway. The light house there has been important for sea travel to Norway for many, many years. During the second world war the lighthouse was fortified, and today you can wander the corridors of the old bunkers. I enjoyed Tea about 100m away from the lighthouse down by the sea.
Thanks to my wife for having the patient to film the temae, and thanks to Anne Norman for letting me use her music in this series of movies.
A while back, I noticed that I had just performed my 1.000th temae. Since I didn’t notice this ahead of time, I didn’t do anything special for the occasion. To remedy that, I wanted to do something for the 1.024th temae instead. If you’re not a computer geek, and wonder why 1.024 is a special number, have a look at the last section of this post.
Celebrating 10.000.000.000 temae
When I decided to celebrate my 1.024th temae, I counted forward based on the idea of doing one temae a day. By perfect alignment of the stars and a portion of good karma, my 1.024th temae would be on the day my senpai from Australia would come visit. A perfect occasion!! I had to forgo morning tea that day to enjoy my 1.024th temae with her.
During my Midorikai stay, Wendy was doing her second year at Midorikai. Even with a slight age difference, we became good friends. She helped me learn some of the teamae I was not able to study during the regular classes, and she introduced me to a kimono- and Tea teacher. She is touring the world, and as it happened was in Norway this auspicious day 😉
As you might know, when you invite someone to a Tea ceremony, you traditionally try to choose dogu that have special meaning for your guest. With that in mind; I picked a chaire one a mutual friend (the kimono- and Tea teacher Wendy introduced me to) had helped buy. I used my commemorate Tea bowl because it is the most special bowl I have.
Also, I put my chatsubo on display, because Wendy was with me in Japan when I purchased it. I have never used it for anything before, I just had a irrational wish to own one after reading about how the Tea masters of old valued their chatsubos. A chatsuboto is used to store Tea leaves between the harvest and when you start making Tea from the leaves. So it wasn’t part of the ceremony as such, but rather as part of the ornament.
After Tea, we enjoyed some Norwegian moose meat, french and italian wine and a lot of good conversation. It was great to catch up with my friend from down under.
Why is 1.024 a round number?
First of all you need to know that I’m a computer person. It is my profession and one of my passions. In the world of computers, everything is either power on or power off. Power on is represented by the number 1, while power off is the number 0. This gives rise to the binary number system: Instead of using the numbers from 0-9, computers only use the numbers 0 and 1.
I won’t bore you with the calculations, but suffice to say that in the binary system, 1024 is written as 10000000000, a very round number indeed.
Yesterday I recorded my 1.000 temae. I started keeping record in 2002 and now twelve years later I have done temae 1.000 times. In addition to my temae there is another 312 temae performed by other students.
My 1.000th temae was otsu-bukuro. I regret that I did not do something special. I should have used nicer dogu and had a guest over. Instead it was just another Morning Tea before heading to the office.
I’ll try to make 1.024 special instead. For people that are into computers 1.024 is a much rounder and nicer number then 1.000 anyway.
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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.
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 17th of May Norwegian celebrate the constitution. This year was the 200th anniversary for the constitution. I was going to spend the night from the 16th to the 17th at my mam’s house. Unfortunately I had forgotten all my dogu at home. Next day my wife brought the dogu when we meet up at some friends for brunch. Because of this I ended up doing Tea in their garden all dressed for national celebration. As you can see my wife brought me the zogue chashaku and a brown chasen, not the most common dogu for Ryakubon. However, I should not complain since I got it specially delivered 🙂
The grass was nice and fresh to. My friends finished putting it out the day before. Not bad to be able to do temae on brand “new” lawn.
The day after I decided to bring my dogu out into the forest. A friend and I walked about 10km, at the end of our trip we enjoyed some matcha at a wooden bridge. I enjoyed doing tea in the forest a lot. A few people passed by while I was making tea, but beside them the air was filled by the sound of flowing water from the river below. I was able to fit the chawan, “natsume”, chashaku, chasen, chakin and fukusa all inside the kettle. This way it was easy to carry, and minimum risk of damaging the dogu. I usually bring the “furo” (aka primus) when I go for hikes so all I need to bring extra for tea is my kettle filled with dogu.
I decided against bringing a real natsume. I figured it would be difficult to transfer the tea to a natsume out in the forest. Therfore I settled for a koyama-en special “natsume” 😛 There was a unforseen consequence of using this “natsume.” The lid had some tea stuck to it. When I placed it down on the tray it all came of, making a nice Tea-circle.
If you haven’t answered the survey, please do so by clicking on this link.
This first of may, which is a holiday in Norway, I pitched my brand new tent in our garden. The manufacturer deliver their tents with unsealed seams, and leave it to the new owner to seal it. The best way to do this, is to pitch the tent and apply the silicon while it is standing. Also I feel it is a good idea to have tried putting the tent up once before setting out on a overnight trip where I will depend on it for shelter.
Anyway, why am I writing about this here? Well, I bought a wood stove with the tent. The stove serves two purposes, heating the interior and supplying a source of heat for cooking. I figured it can also be used for chanoyu. After adding two small pieces of wood, my little brother and myself sat down to wait for the water to heat.
I brought out my chabako and we enjoyed two bowls of cacao each. My brother is not a fan of usucha, which he has had only once before, but cacao, that he loves. We had a very enjoyable time. Next time is going to be somewhere in the Norwegian mountain, but I believe that I still have to use instant cacao powder if I want my brother to join. I figure that there is precedence for this in tea history, as Hideyoshi commanded everyone to attend his great tea gathering even if they did not have any tea and needed to use rice instead 😉
When I visited Warsaw I was inspired by my teachers story of dairo to try gyakugate again. I rearranged my room, having
made two cuts for the RO it was quite easy. Just had to lift up all the tatamis and shift things about. After five minutes my room was all changed.
It was strange sitting on the opposit side of the room. One of the first things I notice was that the room has much less “decorations” on one half than the other. The part which the host usually can see is quite decorated with the tokonoma, a window, and some white birch pillars. While the wall to the left and in front of the host is just a plain wall with only one small window between them. I had not thought about this before I was looking at the room from gyakugate perspective. Neither was it planed that way.
The thing is that what I can see from the gyakugate temae-za is much the same that the guests will se in a regular temae. So in other words I have made a room in which I’m forcing the guest to sit with their back to the most interesting part of the room. This is something I should take in to consideration if I’m ever designing a new tea room.
It was a bit of a mental challenge to remember all the different things that changes during gyakugate. It does not help that it has been 7-8 years since I last did it. After a few attempts I feel I got the hang of it again. I should probably do this at least one week every year. It would be nice to try it in February. Since that is the dairo-month and dairo is always gyakugate.
According to one of my senpai having the guest on the left side used to be the regular style, and it was Rikyu that wanted to be different and had everybody on the right side. Not sure if it is true, but it is a funny thought non the less.
This has been a crazy few months, but I have mostly my self to blame. I have booked a bit too many things. I have already been to Latvia, Sweden, Poland, Germany and now Denmark.
As I arrived in Denmark I realized that I had forgotten to bring my waterboiler. So the first morning I was unable to make Tea, as there was no boiler at the hotel room.
However, I was determined not repeate the Swedish “mucha” expereince. So I went straight from the training session to a shopping mall to find a waterboiler. I found a nice red boiler, and they even had them in different sizes. So I got the smalest one figuring that it would make for a good one for future travels. It is about half the size of my previous boiler.
I had a enjoyable temae at the hotel. I did Yuki, before I headed out to have a meal at a Indian resturant in Copenhagen. I also happily made a note that my utensils seems to have taken no ill effect of beeing shipped as check-in luggage.
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 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.
Today was the 100th day of morning tea. I’m very happy with this tradition and after one hundred consecutive days of tea I’m comitted to continue. Maybe 2014 will be the first year with tea every single day of the year.
Todays temae was Bondate. A while back I started to do also the longer temaes in the morning. Most of the mornings I time how long it takes as I’m curious to see if my speed at doing temae changes over time and to learn more about how much time things takes.
Some “fun” statistics from my first 100 days of temae:
Looking at all the temae they take at average 21 minues when I drink the tea my self, and 27 minutes when I make tea for two and share a bowl with my wife. Koicha takes five to six minutes longer than Usucha. Shikaden takes about four minutes longer than konorai temae to do on average.