Friday, August 8, 2014

Chanoyu

by aleks
I got busy with summer activities, but still wanted to record our June Cont. Ed. class on Japanese tea presentation - quite extraordinary two hours learning about chanoyu, its traditions and intricacies, ways of serving the sweets that come with it, and especially about the intent behind it. We were even given an opportunity to make and serve the tea to each other!

SJG, Tateuchi Community Room  • 6/19/14 - Tea sweets: bean cakes presented on hydrangea leaves with a bamboo stick

Our tea master Naomi Takemura and her gracious assistant Kaoru Green made it super-special for us by hand-preparing all the sweets that went with the presentation, beautifully arranging them and being very patient with us and our different speeds of understanding  (I know, we asked the same questions several times).

SJG, TCR  • 6/19/14. Our Tea Masters: Naomi Takemura (R) and Kaoru Green (L)

I have previously participated in a few ceremonial ways of preparing and drinking tea (actually just drinking), but be it for the discomfort of kneeling for an hour (I learned since that one can request a stool if your knees are not in the best order) or for the ceremony being largely silent that I came to the conclusion that one needs some training to even receive the tea - most of what was going on was flying above my head and by the time of Q&A on the end of the ceremonies  my mind was chiefly  busy with wondering if  I'd be able to stand up and walk out without tripping...

SJG, • 6/19/14 - Kaoru Green starting to prepare the tea

So now, leisurely sitting in a CHAIR, I could finally learn what is the business of turning the tea cup while presenting it to the guest and back to the host. Turns out each cup has 'front' and 'back' (even if it has no such marking, the sides get  'appointed' to a specified position), and it would be impolite, of course, to offer the tea in a cup that presents its 'back' to the guest or the host.  During our class Naomi and Kaoru answered this and many of our questions with humor, kindness and patience.

SJG, TCR  • 6/19/14. Our other sweets (Japanese candies) were served in origami boxes

After the class Mrs. Takemura sent us a wonderful note which included this touching  sentiment: "I will be happy if you are able to feel the heart of chanoyu (tea ceremony) behind the forms or procedures of drinking tea."

That sentence spoke to me and very much summarized my own feeling about the class: 'your questions finally answered'; now  I can just enjoy the next chanoyu instead of trying to figure out what it means.   Thank you Naomi Takemura and Kaoru Green, from the bottom of our hearts!


SJG • 6/19/14. Irises were blooming while we had our tea...

The custom of tea ceremony has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism and there are many schools of chanoyu.  Sensei Takemura has a teaching degree from Sen Soshitsu of Urasenke school in Kyoto; in May 2012 Thomas Hargrave wrote a blog-post based on his conversation with her; click  here to read it...

SJG offers tea ceremony throughout the year (contact the Japanese Garden at 206-684-4725 for the current schedule) + extra 3 presentations during the upcoming Moon Viewing Ceremony (Sept. 6th)

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Reminder:  butoh Wandering & Wondering this Sunday, August 10,  2-5 pm. Unexpected and enchanting performers take over the Garden...

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