Visit to Egypt

Our friend Ahmad of Chanoyu Arabia relocated to Cairo and after some settling in invited us to share tea with the people there.

red and bent pyramids

Ahmad making koicha

We held practices for thirteen days and were also able to travel to Tunis, a pottery town in Fayoum, about three hours drive from Cairo, where we were able to show the local artists how we use ceramics in chanoyu.

The potters of Tunis

tea for the potters

The Cairo tea group has a long history and is currently trying to get more active, and they showed it, many members came several times during our stay.

ryakubon practice

fukusa folding

guests all around

There are of course Egyptian people studying tea as well as Japanese, we also met other people from diverse regions all living in Cairo that Ahmad has been getting involved in tea.

five countries represented

Some people are drawn to chado from very young ages. Noor, commonly known as Hanto-chan is eagerly mastering every aspect.

Hanto-chan

The trip was wonderful, the people friendly and receptive, tea everyday, warmer weather, a fantastic and giving host. A truly magical experience we hope to repeat soon. Thanks Ahmad and everyone in Cairo.

Happy tea drinkersThe Host and his guests

Summer Anniversary Chakai 2012

This year marked the fifth and fifteenth anniversary of our tea group in Warsaw.

It has been fifteen years since Iwona returned from Japan after beginning study with Sugimoto-sensei and then began sharing tea culture with others in Warsaw. Five years have passed since we became recognized as an affiliate of Urasenke Tankokai with endorsed Urasenke teachers and support. Ordinarily we have had our anniversaries at our practice space but this year, in order to celebrate with a wider group of people we planned the event in a public location.

Our setting was a palace affiliated with Warsaw Castle called the Palace Under the Tin Roof (or The Tin-Roofed Palace)

The palace itself was built in 1720 and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Warsaw and the first building to have such a roof rather than the tiles that were customary before then.

The rooms we shared with our guests are filled with an exquisite Oriental Carpet Exhibit that created an intensely warm and cozy atmosphere. Earlier in the summer we held a tea presentation in collaboration with the palace and the wonderful staff there allowed us to hold this event using their facilities.

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The guests were a combination of our own members and guests along with those invited by the palace. Sugimoto-sensei attended from Japan along with several of our other honorary members.

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After our president Urszula greeted the guests Sugimoto-sensei, with Anna Z. translating, read a letter of congratulations from Sen Hounsai and Sen Zabousai, the fifteenth and sixteenth generation heads of the Urasenke tradition of tea in Kyoto.

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This was followed by a short message from Dr Jadwiga Rodowicz-Czechowska, recently returned Ambassador to Japan from Poland.

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Next we conducted a tea making presentation in which Aaron and Damian offered tea to Sugimoto-sensei, Krzysiek and Misia while Ula explained a little for those new to the process.

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Next, as the tatami on the stage were exchanged for a misonodana during a quick intermission, the guests were served their sweets. Then while Agata and Marta made tea on the stage the rest of our group served everyone assembled their tea.

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In another change from our standard events we had a professional photographer taking pictures for us, that’s why there are so many to look at. All the pictures marked ** are his. Thanks Sebastian for taking these great shots and for letting us share them here. Everyone can check out his sites at the links shown below:
  

Lastly, thank you and congratulations to all our members for coming together and making this another special event. Looking forward to continued Tea sharing for many years to come.

Thank you all

Tanabata Matsuri at the Japanese Embassy Culture Center

Invited by the Japanese Embassy, on the 5th of July we participated in the very rare occasion to help fulfill a dream. Monika Tomaszewska (in blue kimono) wanted to become the Ambassador of Japan to Poland for a day. And thanks to the I have a Dream Foundation, she did. Ambassador Yamanaka gave up his position for a day and together with his wife accompanied the new appointee throughout the evening. Monika’s address to those gathered had a professional and at the same time heartfelt warm ring to it.
Tanabata, the Star Festival, is a Japanese celebration dedicated to fulfilling dreams. A festival of love and hope. All our numerous guests this day joined in cordial atmosphere of this special event.
Our respects to the I have a Dream Foundation and its Good will Ambassador, Małgorzata Kożuchowska. Here is a link to more photos on her Facebook provided by the Japanese Embassy
There was tea at the misonodana table…
Some of our guests got a chance to try on a yukata…
There was tea prepared from a box (chabako)…
And a tea gathering on the tatami mats…
In the end some of the guests, after on the spot training, helped us to serve everybody sweets and tea.
A joyful event, great guests, thanks again to everybody who helped with it’s organization.

Trip to Vilnius, Lithuania

In June, the Japanese Embassy in Lithuania asked us to help them celebrate the opening of a new Japanese garden within their botanical gardens in Vilnius.

(The Japanese garden has been in the works for nearly ten years, the botanical garden itself is a part of Vilnius University http://www.botanikos-sodas.vu.lt/gallery/main.php/v/dvaras/Japoniskas-sodas/)

Krzysiek, Ula and Aaron made the trip in order to share tea at this festive occasion.
(With the additional bonus that this would be the first time to visit Lithuania for any of us.)

The drive was pleasant and not overly long. We took a day for driving each way and two days in Vilnius.

At the garden we were shown around and chose a nice spot outside where we made tea for the special guests who were there to view the garden the day before the official opening.

After the VIP group was served all the attendees were invited to sit with us and share the beauty of the garden.

That night H.E. Ambassador Shiraishi invited all of us who had come to help to a fine dinner.

The grand opening was the next day and several hundred guests wandered the gardens,

listened to koto music,

watched ikebana (flower arranging) presentations,

listened to us talk a little about tea culture in Japan

and settled in to share a sweet and tea with us.

Everyone seemed interested in hearing about Japan and tasting the tea, we noticed several people mentioning magic and “reading” the remains of the tea in the bowl, it seems Lithuanians might be living close to nature and open to powers beyond the physical realm.

Luckily we had a helper from the Japanese Embassy in Lithuania who helped us serve all those guests. Thanks to Ambassador Shiraishi and all her staff who made this a great event as well as a fantastic memory of a rare chance for us in Poland. Vilnius was a pleasure to visit with a wonderful old-town full of friendly people. We hope to share tea in Lithuania again and recommend a trip there to everyone.

Kyūdō Group First Shot and Tea Presentation

We were asked to share tea in order to commemorate the first kyūdō competition of the year.

In Japanese arts there is an old tradition of holding “the first of the year” celebrations. Following suit in kyūdō, the First Shot of the New Year is practiced. In chanoyu we indulge in the First Chasen (chasenzome) celebrations.

Once the competition ended the archers gathered and sat in two rows so that they could easily receive their tea.

Everyone was served dark and light sweets preparing them for the tea.

 

Krzysiek and Ula made tea simultaneously. One with dark, one with light utensils.

The forms used allowed the hosts to make tea in a nearly mirror-image manner, placing the tea out for the guests without getting in each other’s way.

The form with the dark utensils is called hongatte (standard, with guests on the right of the host)

That with the light is called gyakugatte (guests seated on the opposite side than standard)

 

It was indeed a pleasure to share a bowl of tea with other practitioners of the Way. All the best for the New Year to all kyūdō practitioners!

 

 

Presentation in Bielsk Podlaski

In December we got out of Warsaw a little. On one occasion the Museum in Bielsk Podlaski welcomed us and chanoyu with heartwarming hospitality during their Japanese exhibit.

Here is their site:  www.muzeum.bialystok.pl/bielsk/

Surrounded by two large groups of curious friendly guests it was easy to transmit Rikyu’s principles: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility…

even after the kids took over.

It was great to have so many interested people, especially the children, with which we could share this aspect of Japanese culture.

At the same time there was a ritual towel exhibition at the Museum. http://www.bielskirecznik.pl/

Ula became so inspired that she later tried her hand at embroidery and made her own towel like those in the exhibit. So it was a true exchange of cultures and another memorable meeting.

Thanks again to the staff at the museum for having us.

”Japan Days” at Warsaw University

Near the beginning of every school year the Japanese Studies Department at Warsaw University hosts a two day event full of presentations called Japan Days. Several of our members gave presentations and we also held a tea presentation once again with Ścieżka for the opening of the event.  At the same time we hosted tea gatherings in Kaian (the Japanese tea room in the Warsaw University library) both days for all comers as well as for the guest lecturers visiting for the event, Zivka Serper and Hirano Keiichiro.

Ścieżka art included ikebana, ceramics, paintings and caligraphy.

 

Our utensils, besides the table and kettle, were Polish and American.

 

 

 

 

 

We dressed in Western clothes for the presentation at the misonodana (pictured black lacquered table)

 

Guests trying the sweets and tea

 

 

Making tea for some membes of Ścieżka

 

In Kaian with theater specialist Zivka Serper

 

Students enjoyed the chance to drink tea in an authentic Japanese tearoom and setting

 

 

Ścieżka Exhibit with Tea

On September 10th the members of Sunshinkai (the Warsaw Urasenke Association) were invited to participate in a joint event with Studio Plastyczne Ścieżka at the Studio Teatralne S/T.

wordpress:  http://sciezka.art.pl/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Studio-Plastyczne-Ścieżka/122147404505821?ref=ts

Ścieżka asked us to combine a contemplative tea environment with their art show in order to put the guests in a calm state of mind while viewing the pieces.

To do this we had the guests all enter the gallery/theater as if they were coming into a tearoom. First they put on white socks, used a tsukubai, and finally entered through a nijiriguchi (small crawl-through doorway) into the dimly lit room.

Practice the day before Building the nijiriguchi

Without any additional explaination we started a tea presentation in which three Sunshinkai members arranged flowers, built a charcoal fire and made and drank thick tea on a tatami stage.

First the flowers were arranged

Next the charcoal

Making the tea

Afterwards the lights came up and the guests were invited to view the art.

About an hour later the guests were asked to sit in two lines where they were served tea in temple style before quietly leaving.

The feedback all seemed good, both the guests and the members of Ścieżka thought the atmosphere and environment lent themselves to a peaceful and contemplative experience.

We always enjoy working with Ścieżka, thanks to you all, the next event lined up sounds equally interesting.

 

Visit to Colorado

During the Summer break Ula and Aaron visited friends and family in Colorado. The tea activities were many and are highlighted over the next few posts.

A presentation for a group in Estes Park

 

Drinking matcha was new to nearly the entire group.

The guests all seemed open to the new experience, especially commenting on the overall atmosphere even more than the tea itself.

On the right you see the vase from A. Saqf (www.saqf.com) making its first Colorado appearance.

We also used the calligraphy “Ikka Goyou ni Hiraku”, one flower opens into five petals.

Tea pavilion and tea presentation in Wrocław

Azumaya in Japanese Garden, Wrocław

As we were visiting Wrocław organizing a tea presentation in cooperation with the Japanese Embassy for “Meeting with Japan”, we finally found some time to visit the Japanese Garden. The teahouse there does not seem to be frequently visited by tea guests but certainly makes you want to drink a bowl of heart warming matcha.

A picture from our tea presentation in Wrocław.

Many thanks to the Japanese Embassy for their constant support and willingness to always work together to give more and more people occasion to share a bowl of tea.