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.
In April, M-sensei came from Cairo to Amman to be part of the Japanese Speech Contest jury, which was a great chance to host him at Chanoyu Arabia’s Tea Room. The scroll reads 松樹千年翠 (shouju sennen no midori) which talks about the beauty of never changing green colour of thousands of years old pine trees. A note to pay attention to unchangeable beauty, which is harder than appreciating the changing things around us.
Having such a special guest as M-sensei, was a great excuse to share Koicha (thick tea) with him, along with A-sensei, H-sensei and T-sensei.
The main guest approaches to reach for both the Chawan and the Kobukusa (a square silk cloth to hold the chawan with).
“A Cup of Humanity”
After having the Koicha, the guests get to see the Chaire 茶入れ (thick tea container), the Chashaku 茶杓 (tea scoop) and the Shifuku 仕覆.
A macro shot by our great T-sensei.
After having Koicha, the guests go out to the garden to refresh, while the host prepares for Ususcha (thin tea).
Thanks to T-sensei for capturing this wonderful occasion with his high sense of beauty, and thanks to M-sensei for accepting this humble invitation, and making it a memorable chakai.
A glimpse into the serenity and beauty of Chanoyu, by Amr Toukhy.
Thanks to Amr for having the interest in filming this with his unique vision and talent.
Thanks to Malekun for introducing me to the organic music of Nagata Sachiko 永田砂知子.
Thanks for the kind and talented Nagata Sachiko for allowing us to use some of her “Sound of Hamon 波紋音” Music.
Talking about tea, is like dancing about architecture… but sometimes, it is inevitable, especially with this great chance to reach a wider audience, through the new Jordanian channel, Roya TV.
The first part is an introduction about Chado, and some of its related arts and philosophies. (Dialogue in Arabic)
The second part is a practical explanation about the procedures for preparing tea, following a form called “nagashidate”, which allows the host to chat with the guest while preparing tea, in a relatively casual way.
The third part shows the guest manners for drinking the tea, and an explanation about Chanoyu Arabia group.
Thanks to Rawan Daher for having the interest in sharing this with her viewers on Roya TV, and thanks to all of her team.
The most rewarding thing about making tea, is the precious encounter with great people.
I have had the pleasure of spending some quality tea time with Yasuda-sensei, who came to Jordan to share his love and passion for the traditional chess-like game “GO”, and introduce it to people in Jordan.
Yasuda-sensei is a true master of the game, but he is mostly known for his keenness to introduce children to the game, and as a therapeutic activity in institutions for the elderly and the mentally challenged.
After our tea gathering, Yasuda-sensei was very kind to present a folding fan, with his hand-written message that says “All people upon the Earth are the same: precious, important lives, each one is different, but all are wonderful”.
In the middle of the fan, a drawing of a formation that can arise during a “GO” game, which expresses “Mutual Life” for both players or “Live and Let Live”.
Thanks to Yasuda-sensei for accepting this humble invitation, and thanks to Izumikawa-san and Gupse-san of the Japanese Embassy, for making this special encounter happen. Hope we will meet again, and enjoy more tea together.