Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chanoyu Forum

Hi hi sisters .... ahhh, I finally have a chance to write about this - Tea Ceremony. Last November cloudnine took me to the annual Chanoyu Forum (茶の湯) organized by the Urasenke School (裏千家). Urasenke is one of the 3 direct descendents of Sen no Rikyu (千利休), the 16th century historical figure whose teachings defined the philosophy of Chanoyu today. The other 2 Head-Houses are Omotesanke (表千家) and Mushakojisenke (武者小路千家), together they are called the San-Senke (三千家). If you learn Chanoyu, the chance is you will be following one of these houses.

The Urasenke House and school is located in a quiet neighbourhood (sorry, I totally forgot where it is. Cloudnine?)

We were led to this huge tatami room. Since nobody was there, I just happily charged in to claim the first spot! Then cloudnine warned me that the student in the first spot is usually asked to perform certain tasks! Yikes, too late to back out!

Of course, there's the stove, otherwise they'll be serving ice tea :)

Every tea room has an alcove which is used for displaying 3 things - scroll, flower arrangement and incense. The scroll defines the theme of the chakai (茶会) and is different every time. Remember the Ichie Ichigo - once in a lifetime - motto of Yong Joon? The theme of this tea gathering is : It's still not too late to pursue what you want to do in life. I gasped that it is so appropriate in my current situation here in Japan! In this chakai, we were observers, not guests. Apparently, the hostess and guests both have different etiquettes they have to follow. So next time if you are lucky enough to be invited to a chakai, please don't just jump into the car and head over, better study the rules before you say 'Yes' :)
There are a few items a guest has to prepare for a chikai : linen cloth, kaishi paper, fan and more .... I'll tell you the proper terms and details when I attend my course next week, ok?

See how small these fans are (next to my handkerchief)? Cloudnine is so nice and gave me hers. The one on the right, isn't it precious?

Guests are usually dressed in kimono for specific reasons. Even the way they enter the room and move around have rules. See, this guest was kneeling and sliding her way across the room, not walking! (haha, I know what you are thinking, "she looks more like being punished than coming to enjoy her tea time" :)

She slid all the way to the tea prep area. No no, it's not self-serve tea. She was admiring the tea-ware @@

Then, the hostess came out and started boiling water and making tea.You see, that was very little interaction between the hostess and the guests, even the topics are carefully chosen.

I think guests are supposed to observe and appreciate the ritual instead of chatting their hearts out, so different from a western teatime with girlfriends :)

The hostess offered the guests some wagashi (Japanese sweets) The guests can also take time now to admire the tea-ware, usually antique or of artistic value Returned the tea bowl (with front facing out) to the hostess and arigato gozaimasu. A closer look at the wagashi, it's yummy with azuki (red beans) inside.
and matcha (green powdered tea). Told you it's not ice tea!
We had group discussion afterwards. Hehe, I was not in the pic, but my future sensei was :)

I remember one of the participants shared his experience about Chanoyu that got me interested : it brings him inner peace and calm where he can leave all the problems of life behind the paper-screened door and enters into a world of harmony and purity. I am looking forward to my Chanoyu lessons already :)


Anonymous said...

Dear Jaime and Bae sisters:
Greetings on a cold windy day.
I am very interested in your Chanoyu experience. I have also attended a couple of tea ceremony but outside Japan, so it could not have been as ritualistic as yours. Is it true that the Japanese tea ceremony can be compared to the Catholic mass? I have read a study that points out similarity and differences between the two rites.
Enjoy your classes and tell us more. Bae Yong Joon likes the tea ceremony.
Sarang Hamnida,

Yee said...

All I can say is - You are so lucky my dear .... what nice experiences you have in a couple of years.
Thanks for sharing, can't wait to hear about your Chanoyu lessons.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jaime,

As you will start the lesson soon , your teacher will tell you about 'Chanoyu' with more detailed explanation, but let me answer the questions from you and Josephine.

It's hard to believe but this Urasenki Tokyo Shool is in Shinjuku ward, not far from hustle bustle area around Shinjuku Station.

Hehe that red cloth is not linen, but silk you use when you
'symbilically purify' the utensils such as tea caddy and scoop. White linen cloth is used to wipe the tea bowl.

We crawl into the tea room, but not all the way to the alcove or to your place to sit. The idea is the entrance of authentic tea room has very low door so that even shogun has to lower his body to become humble.

Josephine, yes some gesture is said to be originated from Catholic mass such as 'purifying the utensils with red silk cloth', but as I have never attended the Catholic mass I can't say how.

Christianity was intorduced to Japan by a Spanish missionary Francisco Xavier in 1549, almost the same time when Rikyu lived, so there is no doubt he was influenced by 'new culture'.

cloud nine

Anonymous said...

Dear Josephine,

Let me add one more thing.

Chanoyu is not a religious ritual but a place for communication. It is the place where host entertains his guest(or guests) with tea, food, flowers, artistic utensils, and so on. As you know it is greatly influenced by Zen philosophy.

Chanoyu was once very popular with samurais or feudal lords. The place was where they retrieved their mental peace during the warring era.

cloud nine

cecy said...

Hi jaime. how are you?,
Very beautiful Japanese traditions, I remember having shared some pictures of our prince in a ritual of tea (so they say?) During his visit to Japan, while he went to study art in lacquer ..., hey Tell me about Claudine , as it is, ... is your friend?, sorry but it is curious that the very mention has to be a very nice person. and tell me how Japanese are your classes?.
Thanks for sharing such beautiful images.
Wrap up well and watch out for the intense cold.
Cecy fondly Mexico.

myoce said...

Hi Jaime !

Thank you for the account of the beautiful ceremony, Jaime. It's very interesting to learn about new cultures.

Love, myoce

yudi said...

Dear Jaime,

Thank you very much for this very interesting and knowledgeable post about chanoyu. I would like to read more about it. Waiting for your next chapter.

Many thanks to cloud nine for your insight of the ceremony as well.


jaime said...

Hi Josephine,

sorry for my late reply. Thank you cloudnine for answering Josephine's questions. I will start my Chanoyu lesson tomorrow.

love .. jaime

jaime said...

Hi Yee,

Thanks and Have you been to a tea ceremony?

love ... jaime

jaime said...

Hi cecy,

Thanks for your comment. Cloudnine is our Japanese BYJ sister. She is a very caring person who took care of me and many overseas sisters in Japan. Cloudnine also translates a lot of articles from Japanese to English and visa versa. Have a nice day!

love .... jaime

jaime said...

Hi myoce ...

thanks for your interest in chanoyu. Japanese and asian cultures are indeed fascinating

love ,.. jaime

jaime said...

dear yudi,

it;s nice to hear from you again. i appreciate the 'tea' books you gave me and it helps me to expand the knowledge on tea. Please take care in the cold weather.

love ... jaime