Hatsudate: First Tea Gathering of the Year

初点
“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.

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.

Robiraki: Opening of the Winter Hearth

Every year as the weather turns colder in November we put the brazier away and open the sunken hearth in the tearoom.

This time of year is celebrated as New Year for people involved with chado for it is now that the present year’s new tea is first opened and shared.

The guests gather and eat zenzai, a traditional sweet made of azuki beans and mochi…and a lot of sugar.

The tearoom is prepared for the first charcoal fire to be lit in the hearth.

Guests gather around and watch as the fire is built.

Once the fire was built everyone had the chance to drink both thick and thin tea. There were several great groups of guests throughout the day making this another joyous occasion for sharing time and tea.

As the last guests left, those of us who had been serving during the day got a chance to join our friends and enjoy some tea as well. Always a treat.

 

 

Celebration of Leaves at the Botanical Garden

Once again we teamed up with Ścieżka (http://sciezka.art.pl/), this time for an outdoor festival dedicated to the beautiful leaves at the Warsaw Botanical Garden.

Although the garden is closed to the public starting in November, we got to get inside and celebrate what must be the best season to view them.

Paintings were hung around the garden and the guests were left to wander and wonder at the beauty of nature as well as the fantastic art.

It was a great joy to be outside in such a splendid environment.

Some guests stopped at our table to watch or to partake some tea.

 

This style of procedure , called chabako, is especially nice in an outdoor setting.

 

After some question and answer guests continued walking the gardens…

made prints of leaves they found…

 

ran into friends…

and were invited to join us for sweets and tea.

Before the tea everyone was offered a bowl of warm zenzai (a traditional Japanese sweet, like a sweet soup of beans and mochi) it’s hard to describe, but tasty, really.

We all stayed busy preparing the sweets and tea, to try and forget how cold it was.

We had a great team and managed to supply the demand for warm food and drink.

By the end of the day everyone had their chance to have some tea.

Although chilly, you couldn’t have asked for better weather or better people to spend the day with. Thanks to everyone for coming out and an extra big thank you to all who helped serving our guests and yet again to Ścieżka for working with us once more.

”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

 

 

Rome Tea Seminar

For the last week of September, Misia, Ula and Aaron were fortunate enough to be able to attend a chanoyu workshop in Italy near Rome.

We first visited the Urasenke center in Rome which has a nice big reception room and three tea rooms for both practice and tea gatherings, a spacious 6 mat, a 4.5 mat and a three mat.

There we met other members of the seminar and headed out to the beautiful Benedictine monastery of Saint Vincenzo.

The seminar was led by Nojiri Michiko-sensei who has been the resident instructor in Rome for more than forty years. She has a distinct teaching style based heavily on proper posture both during meditation and temae (tea making procedures). To that end, every day began and ended with meditation (and a lot of instruction on how to sit).

Just after morning meditation

Our practice space

Fully stocked preparation area

During the daily practice, between zazen sessions, the participants were divided into smaller groups working through the entire Urasenke curriculum of temae. But, the focus of the teaching always centered on how to be rather than how to do.

 

The attendees averaged around forty and traveled from such places as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, UK, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Czech, Japan, and even Poland.

Nojiri-sensei and her teaching assistants were teaching in as many languages as countries represented.

Everyday we burnt charcoal produced in Germany (usually cut the night before use) and did sumi temae (charcoal laying procedures) so every night we got to practice three or four haigata (ash forms).

 


Ula got to make tea for Nojiri-sensei and Chantal-sensei on the last day

Nojiri-sensei can be funny and strict, has a lot of energy and is very animated in her descriptions and overall teaching style. She is also quite generous with her utensils as well as her personality, we were shown a couple of tea bowls from the 15th (current) and 14th generations of Raku and then allowed to use them in our temae.

On the last day Nojiri-sensei made a bowl of tea for every participant.

The atmosphere and instruction as well as the food and companionship all added up to a wonderful seminar. We hope to continue having great relations with everyone we met and retain all that we learned. Thanks to Nojiri-sensei and everyone involved.

Daisosho visits London to inaugurate the UK group

Between September 21-22 Hounsai Daisosho spent a few days in London in order to make their long-time group into an official member of the Tankokai association. We were kindly invited to attend the events surrounding the occasion. There was a beautiful chakai before the inauguration banquet on the first day.

Daisosho presenting certificates to both the Honorary Chairman (above) and the President (below) of the Urasenke UK Association.

On the second day the London brach held another chakai in the British Museum before Daisosho provided those gathered with a lecture and tea presentation.

A large number of guests turned out for the tea and lecture

Setting for Daisosho’s presentation

Afterwards a few guests were able to attend a special kencha (tea offering) that Daisosho performed at the Lambeth Palace Chapel, home chapel in London of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Aside from the members of many European tea groups, the event was attended by members of the “Compass Rose” society, Anglicans from outside of England, who seemed to adapt to the different climate with good humor and curiosity

 

The Archbishop gave an excellent talk about peace and unity during the service, one that all members of a chado group surely easily associated with.

Afterwards we were invited to mingle and share tea with everyone assembled. Thanks to all the members of the London group for sharing the celebration and for giving us the chance to meet so many of you as well as other members of the European tea community. We look forward to sharing more tea with you all in the future.

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.