Okeiko

Chanoyu Workshop at The German University in Cairo

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.

Advertisements

Okeiko in Cairo – お稽古 (Tea Practice)

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.


April Chanoyu Okeiko (Tea Practice)

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.


March Chanoyu Okeiko (Tea Practice)

The numerous events of March along with the wonderful trip to Egypt, didn’t give the chance for a lot of tea practice sessions, save the unique one in Egypt, which was meant to happen in the heart of Tahrir Square, but people were not exactly ready to share tea there. 🙂 However, I got to share it with friends and family, which was also very rewarding.

My Egyptian friend enjoying making tea, and he did very well for his first time.

The lovely background gave the right atmosphere for a Chanoyu Arabia photo. It was also nice to use the antique Kensui (waste water receptacle) which I got in Amman, but originally was made in Egypt.

I got the great pleasure of hosting two special guests, who later took turns in making tea for each other. It was a great chance to spend a peaceful evening away from the outer world.

Exchanging roles with the guests.

It is common for new guests to forget having their sweets at the right time, since they would most likely be focusing on the host.

All the way from Denmark, having Japanese tea in Jordan. Thanks for coming and sharing this wonderful evening together.


February’s Chanoyu Okeiko (Tea Practice)

“Kaze” (Wind), was a fitting word to reflect the recent changes that have been blowing through this part of the world.

A Bell Flower, which also corresponds with the “Wind” theme.

After making and drinking tea, the guests get to inspect the Natsume closely. By opening the lid, the guest is able to see how careful the host was in scooping out the tea, without damaging the mountain shape.

Snow piling up on bamboo trees.

A Roya TV team member, waiting to be served.

Another Roya TV team member looking forward to tasting the tea.

A new group, not sure what to expect from attending this practice session.

The first victim, excited, yet cautious.

Tea being prepared by a diligent, active member of the group.

The guest is smiling after her first sip, which means the host had passed the test. 🙂

Drinking tea is not the only thing guests get to experience.

Scooping out the matcha carefully.

Showing the whisking method.

Demonstrating the proper way of holding the Chawan while drinking from it.

Explaining in detail how to handle the “Hishaku” (Bamboo water ladle).

Making tea for friends.

The best way to learn, is to teach.

Explaining how to wipe the Chawan with the “Chakin” (small white linen cloth).

Switching roles and getting even.

The last samurai making tea.

Advanced members, enjoying a serene morning session.

Paying attention to detail while folding the Fukusa (silk cloth).

While whisking tea, the left hand should keep the bowl steady without resting on the leg.

Showing gratitude before having tea.

The host awaits the first signs of content from the guest.

A Koicha (thick tea) practice session.

The guests share the same Chwan.

A Japanese guest experiencing Chanoyu for the first time.

Making tea with a more elaborate setting.

A matcha fan enjoying his second bowl of tea.


January’s Chanoyu Okeiko (Tea Practice)

With the beginning of this year, the official practice sessions for Chanoyu Arabia have started.The first week was quiet, but gave the chance to warm up.

One of the avid members practicing a full “temae” (form of preparing tea).

“Bonryaku temae” is one of the casual and practical forms for making tea, for it doesn’t require many utensils, and can be done almost anywhere.

Prior to any okeiko, the matcha powder should be sifted to remove any lumps, making it easier to whisk.

Folding the “fukusa” (silk cloth), is a basic practice in chanoyu. It is like the first notes you play in a musical concert, it will show your skill and spirit.

In a practice session, people learn how to prepare tea, eat sweets, and drink tea.

After the conclusion of a temae, the guests can have a look at the main utensils used in that gathering.

Practising on different procedures used in any temae, from folding the fukusa, to wiping the natsume and chashaku, and rinsing the chasen.

Sweets are presented to the guest, before the host starts preparing tea.

The host greets the guests from the entrance, right before entering the room.

Keeping an elegant posture is very important while making tea.

A nicely whisked tea should have a creamy fine foam.

In a normal tea room, you don’t find big open windows, but since greenery is not common in Amman, it is worth sharing the beautiful view with the guests.

It was nice seeing the group, and the interest in making and enjoying tea, grow gradually.

Everyone got the chance to experience having tea, and making it.

This lovely gathering hosted a son who invited his mother, and a Jordanian friend who invited her Japanese friend, and a Japanese teacher who invited her fellow Japanese tea friend.Thanks to all of the group members who came and enjoyed their time over the last month. Hope to see you all next time.


Okeiko (Tea Practice) with Ula-sensei & Aaron-sensei

The second event took place at Chanoyu Arabia’s Tea Room, which gave our guests the chance to take part in several practice sessions.

The guests were instructed by Ula-sensei and Aaron-sensei on the proper guest manners, which can be performed at any tea gathering.

Before and after each practice session a student must respectfully greet the teacher.

Ula-sensei showing the proper way of dealing with the pouch of a tea container.

It was a pleasant surprise for some of our Japanese guests to experience their culture in an unlikely place, with a multi-national group of people.

Guests should wait for the right time to enjoy their sweets, in order to sweeten their palate right before their first sip of strong tea.

In one of the sessions, Ula-sensei and Aaron sensei, presented a special “temae” (form of preparing tea), that would only take place when a Nobleman and his friends are hosted.

On New Year’s Eve, we had a very special gathering for our distinguished guests, with “Time” being the theme, as written on the hanging scroll.

On the final day, guests who couldn’t attend before, got another chance to share a bowl of tea with our two teachers, they also enjoyed the special Arabic sweet made of semolina, cheese, and fresh cream.

The main guest, showing gratitude before having her share of Koicha (thick tea), which is then passed on to other guests.

Finally, thanks to all those who attended and enjoyed their time.

Thanks to both Ula-sensei and Aaron-sensei for sharing their knowledge and love of Tea in the most gracious way.

Special thanks to all of my family members, and all my friends, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for their support and encouragement.