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.
There are a thousand and one usages to bamboo in Japan.
From the water ladle to the tea whisk and scoop, host and guest interact with wooden utensils during a tea gathering.
The host could use a wooden container to present sweets to the guest, and the guest would inspect the Natsume, which is a lacquered wooden container that could be a very precious item.
The tea scoop (chashaku) is one of the wooden item that needs to be appreciated, for it requires more skill to make than the tea whisk for example, which usually attracts more attention from newcomers.
Several types of wood can be used to make tea utensils, besides bamboo, cedar and paulownia wood, among other types of wood.
Pottery is not just one of the oldest applied arts in human history, but it is the longest surviving one.
Generally, pottery is either low-fired, or high-fired clay, with various textures and finishes, while porcelain is a fine paste mixture, fired at very high temperatures, which produces a translucent, light weight vessels.
Pottery is essential for the enjoyment of tea, both casually, and formally. It is difficult to appreciate tea without appreciating pottery.
Pottery styles or schools in Japan are classified mainly by the origin (city, village or region) of each kiln, and sometimes by a certain family who generated a unique style, that has been carried out by the same family, or by potters of each school.
Karatsu, Bizen, Shiga and Satsuma, are examples of the old names of the villages that have changed over time, but the pottery style still refers to them.
In Chanoyu, one of the most used utensils is the Chawan (tea bowl), and it is what the host chooses carefully to make tea for the guest, and among the other utensils, the chawan is the one that the guest will use personally. After drinking tea, the guest can admire closely the bowl, and flip it to see its various parts, such as the seal or signature of the maker.
There is a lot to learn and know about Japanese pottery, and its close connection to Chanoyu. Stay tuned for more features about it in the future.
Chabana is quiet different than the more known Ikebana art. While the latter may seem more difficult and elaborate, Chabana -in my opinion- can be more difficult because it tries to achieve a sense of naturalness, yet leave a big impression without exaggeration.
There are many rules and guidelines to help you achieve this effect, yet the best way to learn, is to try and put your heart into it.
In Tea, seasons affect almost everything, evidently Chabana. In summer, flowers are numerous with a lot of greenery. In winter, nothing beats the beauty in the loneliness of a single flower such as camellia bud with a few leaves.
There are two parallel thoughts one must keep in mind while studying and practising Chado, the focus on “Now”, and the excitement about “New”. There is no dwelling on the past, and one cannot be late in either time or season.
Your guests won’t be excited to see flowers they have been seeing a lot lately. You want to always announce the commencement of a new season in everything you do, from the hanging scroll, to the flower arrangement, and even the choice of sweets.
A silk cloth (fukusa) is used to cleanse the tea utensils before and after use.
Each item is meticulously cleaned prior to the gathering. The host performs the act again in the presence of the guest as a gesture of reassurance.
To perfect the ritual, the host must first attain purity of mind; a state of consciousness that is reflected in every single act of tea preparation.