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.
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.
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.
On April 30th, TEDxDeadSea attracted over 800 people to inspire a new generation, by sharing ideas on Education, Creativity and Entrepreneurship.
Chanoyu Arabia got the wonderful chance to be part of such a great event, and created the TEDxCreativiTEA Room, where it allowed people to experience Chanoyu, and also witness the complex and inspiring work of our Origami (Art of Folding Paper) prodigy, Musa-san.
While people were buzzing outside, the perfect setting of the Tea Room, allowed us to prepare for the scheduled guests, a nice and quiet experience.
The flower arrangement was made of Common Mallow (Malva) コモンマロ خبيزة, and Snapdragon 金魚草 فم السمكة, in a Bizen-ware vase.
The first session was relatively quiet, with three, but very harmonious guests, who made our start a very encouraging one.
The small number of guests at first allowed us to have them inspect the Natsume, and learn a few things about Matcha.
A bigger crowd joined in for the next session, and enjoyed taking part in it.
More people got curious to enter the room.They were greeted by the mind-boggling origami works of Musa-san.
The lovely space we were offered at the CreativiTEA Room allowed many people to be seated either on the Tatami mats, or on the fancy leather seats.
This particular group was one of the most memorable ones, for each and every one of them, were fully present with all their senses.
It was a great pleasure hosting them, and interacting with them in such a wonderful occasion.
They had a lot of good questions, and it felt that they all came in together as one big family, although it wasn’t for sure who knew who before the gathering.
Special thanks to each one of them. They really gave us a huge push, and made us enjoy every minute we spent together.
As time progressed, the number of guests grew bigger, which added more excitement for the whole group.
It surely was a great pleasure hosting familiar faces, and also some old friends, by mere coincidence.
It was a great privilege to have had the chance of hosting not only people from the audience, but also from the great speakers, and the helpful volunteers, who played an important role in this big event.
Some of the guests helped lighten up the atmosphere, which made each session a unique one.
The hanging scroll reads 松樹千年翠 (shouju sennen no midori) which talks about the beauty of never changing green colour, of thousand year old pine trees. A note to pay attention to unchangeable beauty, which is harder than appreciating the changing things around us.
12 guests on the Tatatmi, and several others on the seats. The Mizuya (preparation room) was on red alert.
During one of the breaks, our Origami prodigy offered to prepare tea for one of our distinguished guests, who surely gave us the rare chance of enjoying a spiritual and enlightening encounter.
Musa-san, carefully preparing tea from his memory, without any instructions to guide him.
A new session is about to begin.
In any tea gathering, the main guest is expected to entertain the other guests by creating a dialogue with the host, which would reveal some interesting information, and enlighten everyone in the room.
Another memorable session, that ignited several interesting inquiries, and therefore helped in making it a unique experience for everyone.
The previous event that took place recently, gave us the chance as a group, to train on serving big numbers of guests at the same time.
We were all very impressed with the patience and endurance our guests showed while sitting on the floor.
As the day was coming to an end, more and more people were seeking the comfort of drinking tea, in a secluded area.
Everyone made a tremendous effort in keeping the flow go smoothly, even when we were at full capacity.
A full tea day, from 10:30 AM till 8:30 PM, or what we would call a Matcha Marathon. 🙂
A wonderful experience, with magnificent team work, done with much love, dedication, and true friendship.
Thanks to the impeccable team: Eguro-san, Mariam-san, Mo-san, Musa-san, and our hidden knight Tymoor-sensei, for igniting the first spark that made this event possible for all of us. And of course for giving up attending any of the talks, to document with his lens such a memorable and unique event for Chanoyu Arabia, and be there for us, as always.
Thanks to TEDxDeadSea for organising such a great event, and letting us be part of it, in this delightful way.
Thanks to all of the TEDxVolunteers who helped us tremendously. We are very proud of you, and your promising generation.
Finally, special thanks to all who came, and made us feel it was worth all the effort, and hoping the taste of this experience still lingers on in your memories, and would inspire you in one way or another.
On April 22nd, an outdoor charity event was scheduled to take place at the Japanese Garden in Amman, but due to the unexpected change of weather, the event took place at Chanoyu Arabia’s Tea Room.
It was an unprecedented number of guests to visit the room at the same time, but surely was a great pleasure to everyone.
A lovely mix of Jordanian students and Japanese professionals.
It was great seeing the guests feel comfortable as they were waiting for their tea session.
The Jordan Scholarship Fund is run by Japanese volunteers working in Jordan, who want to support Jordanian university students.
At the end of each session, the guests get to inspect closely the Natsume (tea caddy) and the Chashaku (bamboo scoop).
People enjoyed the warmth of the indoors, while it was cold and rainy outside.
Students from three different universities attended the event.
The main sweet was butter cookies with three flavours, the green was matcha, the beige was kinako (soy bean flour), and the grey had a black seed known as Nigella Sativa. The secondary sweet was Wasanbon that is basically Japanese sugar, moulded into shapes.
The Hanto (Assistant Host), helped in delivering the prepared tea and taking away the finished ones.
The Jordan Scholarship Fund group prepared some Japanese food for the guests.
While the host prepares tea at a normal pace for certain guests, the Hanto delivers the other guests, tea made by another assistant in the Mizuya (back room), so they wont have to wait for a long time.
Managing the flow so that the last guest has his tea, before the first one gets bored is very important.
All guests await the host to purify the Natsume for the second time, so they get to pass it around and look at it closely, along with the Chashaku.
The host makes sure the Natsume is clean from inside as well.
Sitting Seiza (sitting on the mat properly) is never an easy thing to do for an extended period of time, especially after the invention of chairs. 🙂
Thanks to everyone who came and supported this event.
Thanks to Jordan Scholarship Fund for asking Chanoyu Arabia to be part of this great event.
And thanks to our great T-sensei for documenting such wonderful gathering, and giving us the chance to share with other people, our joyous events.
Using a Hisago Natsume (container with a dried gourd motif) .
Mixing the first bowl of Usucha.
Bizen-ware vase with azalea and cherry blossoms. The scroll is “wa-kei-sei-jaku” (harmony-respect-purity-tranquillity).
Getting better at handling the Hishaku (bamboo ladle).
Our “Hand Mixer”.
Three generations enjoying tea.
Those Chawans -among other utensils- were a gift to the Japanese Embassy, from the Kobori Enshu Iemoto, when he came to Jordan in 2004.
Explaining “okibishaku” way of handling the Hishaku.
Experiencing making tea at an early age.
Sitting Seiza (properly) is never comfortable, and needs time to get used to it.
One of the most active members, enjoying being a host.
After the conclusion of the gathering, when using a Tana (shelf), the Mizusashi (cold water container) stays in the room, and gets refilled by a pitcher.
A very curious and attentive little disciple, watching quietly each step of making Koicha (Thick Tea).
The youngest Arab to taste Koicha, and actually like it.
All the guests drink koicha from the same chawan. The chawan is held on top of a square silk cloth called Kobukusa.
When using a Tana, the Shifuku (silk pouch) is placed on top, and not on the tatami mat.