Rikyuki 2015

One of the events we try to hold each year is Rikyuki, the memorial tea gathering for Sen no Rikyu.tokonoma before flowers

It has become our tradition to begin with hanayose, a group form where each participant arranges the flowers in a different vase. We squeezed in room for nine people this year, still not enough for everyone but it’s a nice way to get a lot of people involved.arranging flowers

Next Ula and Damian made the fire using the sumi shomo form.P1250960P1250968P1250972

Once the fire was burning Aaron made an offering of tea that was placed in the tokonoma.P1250977

Everyone left the tearoom to enjoy a bite of food and then have the yomogimochi sweet that Monika had prepared.P1250980 P1250982

Once back in the tearoom everyone shared both thick and thin tea.P1250985P1250989

To wrap up the day a simple kagetsu was carried out.P1250996

It’s was a great pleasure to herald in the Spring as well as remember the father of our modern wabi tea practice. We wish that everyone can enjoy the warming season and the company of friends and family.P1250978

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.

Senshinkai Hatsudate in Kraków

In January, seven of us piled into the car and made our way down to Kraków for their group’s first tea celebration of the year.

As always it was great to see, visit with, and share tea with our sister group Senshinkai.
(Forum: www.senshinkai.fora.pl)
(Facebook: Group and Community)

This was the first time many of our members had the chance to have tea in Kraków and our hosts made it fine and memorable for us all.

The pleasure of going to another group’s tea gathering and fully enjoying the role of guest is unmatched. Being the recipients of such generosity always reminds us that we should be making this trip more often.

Many thanks to all our friends in Senshinkai. Here’s to another year filled with chanoyu.

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!

 

 

Hatsudate: First Tea Gathering of the Year

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“First tea event of the year” is a bit of a misnomer since technically we had classes and practices prior to this; however, Hatsudate means more than just what the word itself stands for. Hatsudate is the first time each year we have the opportunity to thank all of our supporters and friends, welcoming guests to participate in a tea gathering (chakai) celebrating them while ringing in the new year.

We needed to divide the group into four in order to manage in the space.

 

The fare was rather simple

 

 

Guests each had a tray of food, sake,

 

 

 

 

and a bowl of soup

 

 

 

before trying the main sweet.

 

Once the food was finished the guests entered the tearoom and watched as the charcoal fire was prepared.


The green utensils on the daisu this year were made in Poland and have a fish scale pattern along the upper edge which many of the guests likened to dragon scales.

The fire was built and rebuilt over the day and into the night.

Once the fire was ready the guests shared a bowl of koicha (thick tea), had a different sweet, and lastly had a bowl or two of usucha (thin tea).

All in attendance seemed to have a good day and we enjoyed being able to share the New Year celebration.  Thank you to everyone involved!  We look forward to sharing chanoyu with you all again many times in this and every new year.

Joyagama: the last kettle of the year

We intended to share one last bowl of tea today. But before the year ends we like to make sure the tea spaces are well cleaned, and to that end, today there was a lot of cleaning. Many of our members came and went during the big day of cleaning (osoji), such was the group turnover and length of the cleaning that we nearly abandoned the idea of having tea. Perhaps it was the draw of the clean room or the charm of tea by candlelight that we found irresistible, but either way, we couldn’t help ourselves.

We had soba noodles as the idea of eating toshikoshi soba seems to have become our tradition at this event.

The first guest shows appreciation for the tea.

The host prepares the tea caddy (natsume) and tea scoop (chashaku) along with a candle so that the guests can have a closer look at them.

You can’t see much without the candle but everything takes on a magical quality with it and the entire evening turned out to be a unforgettable way to wind up our tea activities for the year.

After a short break we will begin looking forward to the first kettle of 2012.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year so wonderful.    See you all in the year of the dragon.