Since Chanoyu Arabia moved to Egypt, its kettle has been offering more hot water for tea, and sharing it with various people from Egypt and around the world.
Looking back several years, it was a turning point when I first shared tea with hikers on Mount-Takao near Tokyo, and the experience of taking the tea room in a very abstract and mobile form, which proved to have a strong impact on the people whom I shared tea with, from complete strangers, to very close friends.
Harmony, Purity and Respect, were cultivated with various people and several generations.
The new tea room in the little island of Zamalek in Cairo, was honored with many special guests from both Egypt and abroad, especially the humbling visit from my great teachers in Poland, Ula-sensei and Aaron-sensei.
In Egypt, I have been enjoying diving in the marvelous red sea, which inspired me to mix both passions, and make the first tea gathering underwater, called “Koukai Temae” which both my guests and the fish enjoyed it much.
Since moving to Egypt, I have developed great fondness for the river Nile, which made me think of offering a special tribute to it, and to all the people who live along it, so I decided to travel to the furthest source and make tea there.
My first stop was in Dar Essalam, where I shared tea with my Tanzanian friend, and then bid him farewell to Zanzibar’s Stone Town.
Then I went to the east coast, in a small coastal town called Paje, where I shared tea with a couple of Norwegian travelers.
On with my journey, I stopped to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which I only went 1000 meters up its forest, and shared some tea with my lovely guide.
The next step was at Lake Manyara and Terangire park, where I shared tea with an Argentinian guest, and a Dutch one.
The final park I went to was Serengeti, which means the Endless Plain. There, I shared tea with my Safari group, one Duch and three Spaniards and our Tanzanian driver and cook.
After bidding everyone farewell, I took a charter flight to my final destination, which was a city called Mwanza.
I went looking around for some hot water to fill my flask, which I will use in my tea making.
The city had a lovely calming feel to it, and the weather was wonderful. I went on to look for my perfect location for making my tea offering.
The spot was the perfect location for viewing sunset, which was approaching, and I had to leave soon after it to catch my flight back to Egypt.
The location was at Bismarck Rock, a volcanic rock formation which has a balancing rock on top.
As I was trying to find the suitable rock to make tea on, I was followed by three people who worked at the park, and were happy to come and be my guests. They three gentlemen enjoyed the tea, and I told them, I came all the way from Egypt to thank you for this water which we share with you.
After making tea for the three guests, I made one more bowl of tea and poured it in the waters of Lake Victoria. With the remaining water, I had my bowl of tea, as a symbol of sharing it with my guests and everyone who lived along the Nile.
The remaining tea, and tea whisk, I gave to one of my guest since he wanted to let his family try this special tea.
It was a very touching and profound experience to say the least.
After two years of bringing my own tea room to the German University in Cairo for an activity week, I am now supervising along with a colleague of mine, 11 students who are designing their own tea room on campus, with its original garden, furniture, utensils, even designing sweets, inspired by Egyptian nature, and by only using local material.
The students have completed half of the work, which covered research and concept develpment. In the coming semester, they are expected to finish implementation, and graduate from the faculty of Applied Sciences and Arts.
Seeing how those wonderful students have gotten involved in this topic, which has changed their perception, and inspired them, is truly a tea dream come true.
After the move from Jordan to Egypt last September, it took a few months to start Chanoyu Arabia’s activities in Cairo.
The Applied Arts Activity Week at the GUC, was a great chance to introduce Chanoyu to the students.
With great help from my dear tea friends whom I met in Cairo, we were able to set up a tea room, suitable for the activity.
Colleagues and students were happy to get a taste of this inspiring culture.
The activity was held over two days, with people mostly sitting in as guests, and one student was eager to learn how to make tea by herself.
It was very rewarding to see the enthusiasm, and the keenness to learn precisely how to hold each utensil and handle it properly.
The student was able to learn bonryaku temae, and also the hirademae usucha.
It was great using both Japanese and Egyptian utensils in our first official event in Egypt.
“Sen Ri Dou Fu” meaning Same wind blows, even at a thousand miles, was the theme of our gathering, for it was the same wind that set sailed me from Japan to Jordan, and now even further to Egypt.
Our kind tea friends, with the keen student.
The guests enjoyed the sweets, the tea, and looking at the gorgeous kimonos.
Starting with the basic steps of learning chanoyu, such as folding the chakin, fukusa, and wiping the natsume and chashaku.
The first tea bowl.
One of our Japanese enthusiast colleagues enjoying his tea.
Thanks to all of those who came and enjoyed their time, and to all the friends who went out of their way to help out in this memorable event, that even after several months, some students express their desire in taking part in any future similar events.
Three months ago, we had the pleasure of concluding our tea events in Jordan, by taking part in a Japanese Handicrafts Exhibition, named “Handcrafted Form”.
The Exhibition was part of the inauguration of the Museum, which is part of the Tourism Development Project that is supported by Japan.
The tea event lasted for two days, with several sessions, where the guests learned a little bit about Chanoyu, and experienced a simple tea gathering.
The exhibition featured great examples of Japanese Handicrafts, which most of them were influenced by Chanoyu.
You can see the stages of creating an Oni Hagi Chawan, which was developed in Yamaguchi prefecture, the nearest to South Korea, by Korean potters who then taught Yamaguchi potters their technique.
The Mizusashi with the lacquered wooden lid is another example of Chanoyu utensils that were at the exhibition.
The tea room was right next to the exhibition hall, but in a more secluded and private setting, which enhanced the whole experience for the guests.
It was a great chance to experience hosting different numbers of guests at each session. From one guest to a full house. Each had its unique atmosphere.
Sharing tea with various people of different cultural backgrounds is always a muse to me. It gives Chanoyu great credibility in spreading harmony among different people.
A German group of friends enjoying their tea time.
One of the guests inspecting the Natsume which holds the powdered green tea.
People of all age groups were served a bowl of tea, with a little bit of info about Japanese Tea Culture.
It was very rewarding to see how people were eager to learn more, and make the best of this experience.
Having Japanese guests among the different nationalities, always provides a unique experience to the Japanese people, for they get the chance to see their culture reflected on other people, in a unique setting.
“The Cup of Humanity”
Friends of Chanoyu Arabia, who have taken part in many events, were happy to be there as well.
Those who had tea from a previous session, were still curious to sit and watch other guests have their tea.
The long black board “Nagai ita 長い板” is very convenient in such events, where the host can keep the Mizuashi displayed all the time, in the simplest way, without the addition of a display shelf.
Having an assistant host is very important when serving big number of guests, in a relatively comfortable time frame.
One of our special sessions hosted a big family of a Jordanian man married to a Japanese lady, who brought all their kids to take part in this experience.
Everyone enjoyed the tea, even the little ones.
Friends from the Japanese language course, as well from the Japanese Embassy were also present.
Some of the guests were keen to learn more about Chanoyu, and actually wanted to join the group, but unfortunately, this was the last event for the group before we moved to Egypt, where we will start a new chapter in Cairo.
The main guest has just had his bowl of tea, and passed the sweets to the second guest.
One of Chanoyu Arabia friends joined one of the sessions, and was very kind in helping the other guests. She had her small greeting fan, along with her utensils that each guest is expected to carry to any tea gathering.
Five people from five different countries, none of them is Japanese, yet all were sharing Japanese tea in Jordan.
Those who didn’t mind sitting on the tatami mats, were able to not just taste the tea, but also take part in the gathering.
Some of our guests came all the way from America.
Behind every successful tea event, there is a great team working in the Mizuya (preparation room).
It is vert important to keep the Mizuya clean and clear, for a smooth flow.
There was also some tea time for the Mizuya.
After the tea sessions, we concluded the day with a presentation on “Teaism & Japanese Crafts”, where the guests got to learn in detail about the relation between Chanoyu and the development of Japanese Handicrafts.
The main subject was about the ten craftsmen families in Japan, who have been working over several generations for the three Sen families of tea schools.
The first day closed on a high celebratory note, while the second day’s conclusion was more reflective and solemn, for it was the end of a year, full of great memories and events, that allowed us to share tea with many people, and hopefully left a lasting good impression.
I can’t thank enough all the people that helped us from the very beginning, and made Chanoyu Arabia a reality, my family, friends, great teachers, and all the guests who came and enjoyed their time, thank you very much.
It has been a great debut for an exciting journey, and we all hope to meet again in another time and place, and meet new people along the way, and spread harmony and peace, through this cup of humanity.
See you soon in Cairo.
With great excitement and enthusiasm, the Japan-related event the kids of KnK were waiting for, started with a captivating presentation by Tymoor-sensei, where he shared his experience and knowledge about Japan, and the Japanese language.
The kids were genuinely interested in the event, and were very interactive.
They explored several Japanese arts and games, and had the chance to learn and do many things first hand.
It was a great chance for Chanoyu Arabia to be part of this wonderful event, and share with the kids the unique taste of Japanese Hospitality.
The girls were a bit hesitant at the beginning, but gradually became more interested, and enjoyed the tea.
Some kids were very interested in the procedure of making the tea.
The calligraphy corner wrote the kids’ names in Japanese, which made it possible to call each kid by their name, and made the the atmosphere friendlier.
Some of the KnK staff enjoyed a short tea break.
Some of the kids were more patient and curious than others.
It is always a great pleasure to make Japanese people feel at home by having a bowl of tea with us.
The boys were very curious and eager to learn and try something new.
As with most kids, the cookies are the fun part, but surprisingly, many boys enjoyed the tea a lot.
Thanks to Chanoyu Arabia’s Team (Mariam-san, Jumana-san, Mo Rai-san, Musa-san, and of course our long-time photographer Tymoor-sensei who despite his busy schedule, managed to document this lovely event).
Thanks to all who worked on this event, and made it a memorable experience to all the girls and boys of KnK, whom we wish a bright and exciting future.
A few days ago, we have had the great pleasure of hosting the wonderful local staff of the non-profit organisation KnK, who supports underprivileged youth in Asia, by offering them educational programs and extra curricular activities.
KnK began operation in 2000, from their base in Tokyo, and in 2007 Jordan joined their network, and currently caters to almost 800 kids.
We were very glad Kato-san, the project coordinator, was able to feel the warmth of her home while enjoying her tea.
Our host, Mariam-san, proved to handle her first official Chakai very well.
The staff of KnK consists of teachers and social workers, who besides providing the education and activities to the kids, they also work on reintegrating the underprivileged youth into society.
This event was an introduction to a bigger two-day event, dedicated for all the kids, which Chanoyu Arabia is looking forward to taking part in at the KnK centre in Jabal Amman, on the 27th and 28th of June 2011.
Thanks to Kato-san for coordinating this event and introducing us to the wonderful staff, and thanks to Tymoor-sensei for coming up with the initial idea, and for documenting this event, and thanks to Mariam-san for her efforts and support.
Looking forward to meeting and sharing tea with the kids on the coming big event.
Around the end of May, I got the great privilege of attending one of Cairo’s Tea Practice weekly sessions. Thanks to M-sensei of Japan Foundation Cairo, for introducing me to N-san, who welcomed me to join their lovely group.
The origin of the group dates back to 20 years ago or so, when the first sensei worked on making tea practice possible by ordering the tatmi mats, and the basic utensils, which grew over the years to include many items.
Each member gets to practice on the tatami mats, and on the Ryurei table, which is a form developed in the late 19th century that both the host and guest can be seated during tea making. It was created by Gengensai (11th Urasenke Tea Master) to cater for the tourists who started coming to Kyoto during the Meiji era.
The practice sessions take place on weekly basis, at the same building of Japan Foundation, down town Cairo.
It was nice using an Egyptian made Chawan, which had a very nice and easy to use shape, with an interesting glaze, and rough drawing.
The dark green spots on the inner part of the Chawan, are actually from the glaze.
Two practice sessions taking place simultaneously, which brought me back to the Japan days.
In this form of tea making, a host assistant (hanto) usually sits next to the host to deliver the prepared tea to the guests.
With the closure of the fresh water container, the form comes to an end.
Thanks for a lovely experience, and hope to share with you more tea in the near future, either in Cairo or Amman.
“Sitat Byoot” is a group of women that work from their homes, by creating and selling various handmade products.
The founders of this group approached Chanoyu Arabia to host their incentive gathering, and introduce their members to Japanese culture, and the numerous crafts that involve Chanoyu.
It was a great pleasure meeting all those creative and proactive women, and see them absorb this new experience and learn a few new things, that hopefully would help them come up with new ideas for their projects.
After greeting the guests, and introducing Chanoyu to them, everyone was paying attention to the steps of preparing tea.
To our pleasant surprise, the main guest, by mere coincidence, had previously experienced Chanoyu, several years ago. She was very excited to try it for the second time, in this more elaborate setting.
With the great help of Mariam-san, it was possible to serve all the guests in a good pace.
This was the first official event that Mariam-san sat in as the host, and prepared tea for the guests, which made us very proud of her.
The guests got the chance to have a close look at the Natsume and the Chanshaku, which for them meant more than utensils, but rather handmade products, that showed the Japanese craftsmanship.
The guests were interested to learn the stories of the utensils, where and how they were made.
Thanks to “Sitat Byoot” for choosing Chanoyu Arabia for treating their members to this incentive tea gathering, and giving them this chance to explore this part of Japanese culture with us.