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.

Warsaw

Okeiko in Warsaw 17th of July 2010
Okeiko in Warsaw 17th of July 2010

This weekend I’m going to Warsaw in Poland. Last year I became a member of the Polish Tea association, so it is about time I went to participate in one of their Okeiko.

Ula, Aaron and I were all students at Midorikai at the same time. Ula and Aaron got married and settled down in Warsaw, Ula’s home town.Where they are teaching Tea.

I have visited them once before. At that time we had a good time and some nice lessons. According to my temae records I did Hakobi Koicha, Satsubako and Bondate under their supervision.

I’m excited to meet them again. I haven’t seen either of them since my last visit in 2010. In the mean time they have gotten a baby with I very much look forward to meet.

2010 was a unreasonable year

2010
A friend doing tea

Some times I wonder how many blogpost starts with, “I haven’t written in a while…?” In my case it is symptomatic of a bigger problem. The last year have been very unreasonable. For a whole lot of reasons I have done very litle Tea the last year. As always I think the main reason is that there is not real Tea-community in Norway. There is none to ask “Why did you not attend this weeks Okeiko?” or ask “Are you comming next week?”

Hope the future will be better in this regards.

If the title of this blog post made noe sense to you, you need to learn Japanese. Unreasonable is pronounced Mucha in Japanese. Mucha is written with the characters for no (mu) and cha (tea). So having no tea is unreasonable.

Hakkedana

tana2Living in a country where there are no professional teacher, and not even a very active chado association. I´m limited to study with the dogu I own. Since leaving Kyoto in 2005 I have only had access to a very limited selection of tana. I have a maru joku that I made my self based on the measurements I took while in Japan 2003. I also have a koko-dana and a daisu.

With this in mind I ordered a tana that tana1can be assembled in eight different ways. This will allow me to study the use of eight different tana with out needing to buys them individually or even store them individually. I think this is a great invention. The image above shows the different pieces the tana consist of, while the image below shows one of the possible ways to assemble it.

I planning to put to gather a page on http://wiki.chado.no describing how to use it in the different assemblies. I hope that some of you will help me get this correct.

The only thing that I´m a bit skeptical to is that it is kiji, that is unlacquered wood. It seems a bit silly to have a piece of okeiko dogu that can so easily be stained.

Why begin with Ryakubon.

20040221-20040221-IMG_0382_14_1I’m wondering how common it is for teacher to start teaching their new students Ryakubon. I my self started learning Hakobi, since that was the only temae my teacher knew. I have been thinking that maybe it would be beter to start the students with Ireko-date rather than Ryakubon.

Historical perspective
In Rikyus day a new student would not begin learning Ryakubon, in fact they would not even start with Hakobi. They would start their studies with the highest temae, learning how to serve Tea using a daisu and a formal setting. Only when their experience grew did they simplify before finaly arriving at Hakobi as a Tea master. Somewhere around the 1700 this order was reversed. So that we today start our journey into Tea with the simplified temaes.

The virtues of Ryakubon
I have been asking myself; What is the virtue of Ryakubon that makes it the preferred first temae? I can’t think that many. However, I can think of a lot of reasons why it is not.

We are told that Ryakubon does not require much in the way of utensils. comparing the list of required utensils to that of Hakobi there are only a few items that differ.

Why Irekodate
The main argument for starting with Irekodate for me is that it allows a softer transition in to the other temae. Where as there is a large gap between Ryakubon and Hakobi, it is much smaller for Irekodate to Hakobi. Also it allows all the students in a class to use the same setup of furo/ro instead of having to set up specially for the beginning students.

I thought about it, why not start with Hakobi, why Irekodata? Mostly because Irekodate is quicker, so that the beginning studentd does not have to sit seiza for a long time, and it does not require Haiken. One might skip Haiken to shorten Hakobi, but from personal experience I know the students will learn that Haiken is something extra, something special not a natural part of the Hakobi temae. Therefore I think Irekodate is better as it does not need any modifications or adaptations.

Also if one only wants to learn one temae I personally think that Irekodate is the perfect choice.

Finally I cant think of a single movement in Irekodate that is not immediately usefull for the student in other temaes or in the mizuya.

Practical experiences
I haven’t taken any new students in a while, I want to wait untill I have a proper Tea-room. Therefore I haven’t been able to se how it works to begin teaching a student Irekodate.

As mentioned before I started learning Tea with Hakobi, but without haiken. I felt this worked very nicely. However, our teacher did not teach us about haiken. It was only after studying in Japan for 6 months that haiken felt as a natural part of the temae and not as somthing added.

I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts about this, and if you have any experience with starting a students journey into Tea with anything beond Ryakubon.

Beginner’s Mind

Every Tea teacher I ever met has emphasized the beginner’s mind. I have a long way to go before I understand this principle, but I learned a bit about the meaning while I was in New York.

After a long week, in which I had attended a computer course and done my best to see all the sights of New York City, I felt ready to do some Tea. Late Friday evening I looked up the New York branch on the web. They had classes on Saturday. Since it was late I had no time to make arrangements in advance. I figured I could just go there in the morning and ask politely if I could join for this one session.

When they did not have room in their class I was very disappointed. Why? Their web page gave no indication that drop-in students were permitted, on the contrary, it gave the impression that it was a bit of hassle to become a student. Still I expected that it would work out. Why? Having done Tea in several different cities (Oslo, Sapporo, Kyoto, Prague, and London) I have always had the distinguished pleasure of meeting very accommodating and kind Tea people. So I had come to expect an unreasonable amount of kindness from Tea people. Which is very much not a beginner’s mind.

The first Tea person I met was Mr. Westad. He had a presentation at Kunstindustrimuseet in Oslo. After the presentation, I asked if there was any books one could learn Tea from. He said there wasn’t, but I could come to his home and he would teach me. I remember how happy and surprised I was by this invitation.

I think in this situation that a beginner’s mind would approach the New York branch with no expectation of being accommodated, and would not be disappointed by this result either.

Lessons in Oslo

Would you like to take lessons in Japanese Tea Ceremony in Oslo, Norway?

I will teach when 2-4 student wish to attend and I’m free. I will gladly teach as often as there are are motivated students. If you wish to attend you should join Okeiko Googlegroup

The lessons at my place will be free of charge, if you for some reason feel that you should pay a little something for the lessons you can donate in my name to:

  • Chado Urasenke Tankokai Norway Association on account: 1645.12.89539
  • Wikipedia.org at this url