Day 200 and the bowl that was

2015-05-21 07.29.30Last week, I reached a new milestone in my morning tea project – I have now done temae 200 days in a row. I did not do anything special for this day, but I did have an accident instead. While I was taking the koicha tea bowl off the shelf, I managed to bump it into another Tea bowl that came tumbling out of the shelf and crashed into my freshwater container. So, in addition to a broken Tea bowl, I also now have a mizusashi with some awful scratches on the lid.

I’m going to try make the tea bowl that was into the tea bowl that is. To accomplish this,  I will try my hands at kintsugi (repairing with lacquer and gold).

The main concept of this technique is that you glue the pieces together using lacquer and some other medium like flour. This creates a solid binding of the pieces. You have two options for finish. You can either add a top layer of lacquer and polish this, or you can add a layer of lacquer and sprinkle it with metal dust. The dust will spread out in the lacquer and it will look like the repair was done with metal instead of lacquer.

Actually, I won´t be doing kin-tsugi, but rather “tin”-tsugi since I’m using tin and not gold to do the repair (gold was too expensive for my very first try at this technique). Tin will give the end product a look like highly polished silver.

We talked a little bit about Tea repair in one of our podcasts, and there are some pictures here if you want to see the technique in use. My Tea teacher, who is also a co-host on the podcast, has some experience with Tea repair (the pictures I linked to are all his projects). So I talked to him, to get some advise and to figure out what equipment I would need.

I ordered all the necessary items from the Watanabe web page. I ordered A01, A03, B06, F01, F03, F13, K53, and E02 – I hope that is all I need. It was easy to order, I just e-mailed them the list of products that I wanted, gave them my address and said I wanted to pay with PayPal. The very next day I got a invoice,  and hopefully soon I will have the utensils 🙂

I will be posting my progress under the label. Just click the link and you’ll find all the posts

Some online resources

A step by step guide:

http://www.kintugi.com/honurushi-kintsugi-step-1/

A few nice videos:

https://www.youtube.com/user/togeii/videos

 

TeaLife Audio – Podcast about the way of tea

TeaLife Audio is a podcast about the Japanese Way of Tea that I’m involved with. You can listen to the show (for free) on our web page http://tealife.audio/ or you can also find the show on iTunes and Stitcher by searching for TeaLife.
A podcast, for those not familiar with it, is a type of radio show distributed for free on the internet. You can either listen to it on our web page or go to iTunes/Stitcher and download it to your PC, phone or tablet. By subscribing you will automatically get new episodes sent to your device.
TeaLife audio is a round table discussion of topics related to Chado/the way of tea. We will release a new episode every second week. As of today there are three episodes available, hope you enjoy them. Please let us know what you think of the show, either as comments here or on our forum.

Tsurezure dana

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Tsurezure-dana

During my recent trip to Warsaw I was introduced to a wonderfull tana. Tsurezure dana is made of laquered wood. The middle shelfe is hidden behind two small doors. Using the small hangles on the mini fusuma you can slid them back to reveale the natsume.

Tsurezure dana was designed by Tantansai, Urasenkes 14th Oiemoto.

I liked this tana alot. I liked how it keeps the natsume hidden untill it is needed. I like how the doors and the movements to open them brings extra focus to the revealing of the natsume.

Temae Notes

This tana is only used during Ro season. This might be because it is quite wide.

The natsume is keept inside the tana. To bring out natsume first first slide back the left doors using your left hand, and then slide back the right door using right hand. The doors are closed as soon as the natsume is out. All this is done while still holding the natsume. As you open or close the right door you need pass the natsume to your left hand and similarly for the left door.

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Small doors on the tana

Hishaku and futaoki can be placed on top. Since it is a square shape the hishaku cup should be facing upward presenting a round shape. Hishaku is places diagonalu, with the cup slightly to the left of the center and the handle on the right side. Furaoki goes to the left of hishaku.

During sumi the feather and kogo can be placed similarly as described above for hishaku and futaoki.

When refilling the mizusashi at the end of the temae it is moved to the front of the tana, and a mizutsugi is used.

 

 

 

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Window / Decoration at the bottom

 

 

Oyu for mizuya

2014-10-15 08.16.44When I wrote the post Mizuya Hygiene in June I thought a lot about what my practice in the mizu-ya. In the aftermath I made one adjustment to my practice. I used to take the kettle straight from temae-za to the sink, where i emptied it. I than place it back on the heater, to dry untill I was ready to leave the tea. My thinking was that this way the kettle got the absolute maximum time on the heater to dry.

Writing the hygiene post got me thinking, and I decided to try something different. I now bring the kettle from the tea room to mizu-ya. I use the hot water to clean chakin, chasen and chawan. I leave the chakin in the chakin-arai and pour hot water onto the most dirty part until it returns to it’s usual white. The chasen I leave in the chawan, and fill the bowl with water. Then I give the chasen a quick wisk. Most times there is no tea what so ever left on it after that. But sometimes I have to use my fingers to get of the rest.

Doing it this way requires much less scrubbing and manual cleaning of the utensils. By using water that is near boiling I guess I also kill off some extra bacterias that would have survived with my previous cold water strategy.

 

Mizuya Hygiene

Sweeping the floor
Sweeping the floor

A reader asked me about hygiene’s role in Chado. As you can imagine, Tea ceremony is an old art with roots back to a time when hygiene was viewed very differently. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth supposedly said “I have a bath once a year, whether I need it or not.” Still, purity and immaculateness are important aspects of Tea traditions.

Cleanliness habits vary from keiko-ba to keiko-ba. I have attended keiko in places where everything is newly washed, but I have also visited places where the chasen are filled with dark spots of leftover tea from a bygone era.

For special events, even the cleanest keiko-ba is deep cleaned. A lot of extra effort is put into the cleanliness at such a day. However, I believe my reader was wondering more day-to-day hygiene, and how things are handled for keiko.

I always start every Tea session by washing my hands. Nowadays, we realize that this is important for hygiene reasons. Traditionally, the guest performed a ritual purification of the hands using cold water same way as when entering a temple.

Utensils

From my point of view, there are two main groups of utensils for the purpose of cleaning. It is the ones used for drinking tea and the once used for eating.

Most utensils are rinsed out and wiped dry with a fukin. I use cold water, and this has also been the practice in most mizuya I have visited. If I had hot water available in the mizuya, I would have preferred it to the cold water. I have never used soap on any of my utensils for drinking tea – it has actually never even crossed my mind.

The item that takes me the longest to clean, is the chasen. First, I rinse it out in a chawan by wisking hard. Next, I use my fingers to remove any spots of the left on the chase and rinse it in cold water once more.

Chashaku, chaire and natsume are cleaned using only a paper tissue, removing leftover matcha.

Rinsing the chawan
Rinsing the chawan

After an event, I bring all the eating utensils up to my regular kitchen, where they are cleaned using hot water, soap and a brush, like any other eating utensils. I wish I could run them in the dishwasher, but unfortunately, I don’t have much hope that they could survive.

Fabrics

After using a zokin to clean the tatami, I find a clean one to keep in the mizuya for cleaning out kensui or wiping up spots. Here, I believe that I’m more “aggressive” in my cleaning than most. Most other places I have visited, only rinses their zokin out in water and hang them to dry.

I reuse my Fukins until either there is visible tea spots on them or they are too wet. Then, I run both fukin and zokin in the washing machine.

At my place, chakins are used over and over. I try to clean them out as best I can in the chakin-darai using cold water and an amble amount of rubbing. If I am unable to remove the tea stains, I bring out the bleach and let them soak in it for a while before I rinse them out. I have noticed that other places do this differently. They will remove them from the mizuya after a single keiko, wash them (usually by hand) and even iron them before they are returned. Putting the chakin in the washer is not recommended, as the seams tend to come loose.

Whenever I have an event, I bring out a new chasen and chakin for that event. That also gives me the perfect opportunity to get rid of some of my older ones.

Tatami

It is common to swipe the tatami or zokin them before or after every practice. Failing to do so will be very obvious as everybody uses white socks in the Tea room. Usually when I do Tea in the morning I’m all alone. There is a limit to how much dust and dirt one person drags into the tea room, and so I usually only clean the tatami once a week or before I have students joining me. I figure it is almost the same as before every practice in a group with 5-6 people.

Mizugame

In my mizuya there is no running water, and no proper sink. I keep my cold water in a ceramic bowl with a wooden lid. It is not emptied after every session, instead I leave the water in there from one day to another. Whenever I do empty it, I rinse it and wipe it with fukin. All other places I have been to have either not had a proper mizuya, using a western kitchen instead, or have had the convenience of running water.

Sink

Rinsing the chasen
Rinsing the chasen

I have a fake sink in my mizuya. It is a big flat bucket covered by a coarse bamboo cover. Kensui, chakindarai and such are just left on top of the bamboo cover to let the water run of them. This is probably the item that I’m least good at cleaning. Other places I have studied with a similar setup, would clean and dry of this after every session.

Since my sink is just a big bucket it needs to be emptied. It is a bit of a job to do that at my place, so I try to postpone it as long as possible. In the beginning, I noticed an odor of algae emanating from it after a while. I guess all the tea is providing nutrient for fermentation or some similar process. To avoid this, I dump a decent amount of bleach, which also has disinfectant properties, into the bucket after cleaning it. That way there seems to be no fermentation. I haven’t been to any other places that have a fake sink. They either have a proper mizuya or a western kitchen.

I hope this little run-through has been helpful for those of you who wonder about hygiene in Tea ceremony.

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Audiobook

Photo from Audible
Photo from Audible

Browsing audible for some books to bring on my next road trip audible recommended me this one. I can’t believe it. Book of Tea as a audiobook 🙂 You can get the book her. I wish they had wind in the pines too…

This is probably the most famous book about tea in the west. In my opinion not the most useful though.

I’m very happy to see the first Tea audiobook!!

Kanji

kan1I guess most of you know what a kanji is, for those few that does not they are the Chinese characters used in Japanese (and Chinese) written language. They are also a pain in the お尻.

I strongly believe that kanji is the reason I was unable to master Japanese language. Main reason being that the kanji made it very tedious to pick up a Japanese book and improve the language by just reading a lot, like I did with English.

That was somewhat of a digression. These days I mostly come into contact with kanji in regards to Tea. I get utensils catalog regularly sent to me, the problem is that the only thing I’m able to read is the price, since that is written with regular number. All the rest I have to figure out from the images.

All that is about to change, or at least that is my hope. This weekend I found a fantastic app for my iPhone. It is a magnificent kanji dictionary. A dictionary in it self it not such a great thing, but for this one I bought a OCR module. For those not familiar with the geek-term OCR it stands for “Optical Character Recognition”. Which basically means that it is able to recognize a character or word from a picture.

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I wasn’t at home when I discovered this app, and did not have access to any printed material with kanji at my location. Anxious to put my newly purchased app to the test I found a image of a chawan I had online. I used my phone to take a picture of my laptop screen with the chawan image shown. So in other words I gave the app bit of a challenge. I imagine it will work even better when you take the image directly from the catalogue.
The first image shows how I have selected the kanji I want to have translated using a combination of the left cross to move the selection and the right arrows to resize it into a proper size. Then I told the app to do it’s magic. As you can see it found chawan. If I click on the suggested kanji it will take me to a more extensive page about this word. This page is shown in the next image. From this page I can find the meaning of the word “rice bowl; tea cup.” The pronunciation is given. If you for some reason can’t read hiragana and is still interested in the kanji pronunciation you can have the app read it out loud to you. The machine pronunciation is not great, but it is there. At the top line you can see the two kanji. If you tap either of them you will be taken to a detailed page for that kanji. See the third image. At this page you can find almost anything you want to know about this kanji. Number of strokes,

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meaning, and pronunciation (on, kun, nanori). Clicking on the number of strokes will take you to yet another page. This page, which I have not included a image of, shows you in which order and which direction each stroke should be written.

I have only looked into the OCR feature of this app, and haven’t taken any pains to try to explain what else the app can do. Mostly, I must admit, because I haven’t had time to look that much into the app.
In conclusion wishoTouch is a great app, and I will probably use it a lot for dogu shopping. However it is a pricy app. The main app currently cost $20. In addition you’ll need the OCR module that cost another $7. So a total of $27.
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