Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Uji Matcha

This video explains the matcha green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It also explains why the most desired of tea for Chanoyu is Uji Matcha.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Evolution of Scrolls in Chado.

One of the first lessons in Chado is that Cha is tea and Do is technique or way. Specifically this 'way' refers to Zen. Each part and element within the ceremony plays its part in Zen that will be described throughout this blog. As you shall see over the length of future posts, this inclusion of Zen elements; calling attention to greater realities can enhance ones tea experiences.

As this is a Chanoyu blog, my hope is that each post shall be steeped in Zen so as to guide readers and to remind myself of the elements of Zen within the ceremony but also to provide ideas to be included in ones own western tea experiences.

One element of Zen in the tea ceremony is the Zen scroll: the big scroll with a Zen saying on it. But as I will show, in looking at the development of this idea of the Zen scroll in the tea ceremony we shall find other esthetic ideas that we can employ in our tea rooms and tea houses. 

In the west we have the mantle above the fireplace. In Japan there is the Tokonoma. The tokonoma is a small alcove in a room where a scroll is hung and a flower or display is placed beneath or beside the scroll.
During the Song Dynasty in China landscape scrolls were quite popular, some of which were brought to Japan and were placed in the tokonomas of various homes.  In Japan and China at the time, scrolls that had simple landscapes at the very bottom and a long upward view of sky were favored. 
The idea was that, such a view would lead one to opens one mind to greater realities. Indeed, going to a mountaintop can be a most uplifting experience. Contemplating the sky can clear ones mind quite wonderfully well. It can also offer a wide view too much for the mind to completely encompass...
These days there is a small 'retro' movement towards haiku poems on scrolls and also landscape scrolls that depict seasonal displays. Being conscious of nature in its changes is one awareness that is a part of Chanoyu.

From the landscape scrolls there evolved poems in Chinese characters describing landscapes or nature. This second scroll reads as follows: moon color harmony cloud white, pinetree sound stripe morning dew cold.
The key word in this scroll is as our monk teacher explains is harmony: the scroll is meant to enable us to contemplate the connectedness of all things moving in concert.

After these scrolls used to describe nature,  Zen sayings on scrolls were used. These days in tea ceremonies Zen sayings and poems written in Chinese character tend to be favored.

Hanging a scroll or a sign with a seasonal poem can greatly add to ones tea experience, inviting the greater natural environment in for tea.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chabako ( 茶箱 )

Recently, I bought a Chabako at a Japanese antique shop in California called Trocadero. A Chabacko is a tall 'portable' Japanese tea set pictured at right.


Sadly, it came with two refuse bowls and didn't come with any tea bowl at all. (The refuse bowls are the two just infront of the box)
In Nampo market here in Busan I picked up a teabowl that had a white crane on it. It matched the tall water jar that came with the set matching it nicely.

Closer to home, I recently heard of a Japanese tea ceremony supply store in the PNU area of Busan near the Muslim temple. I shall keep you posted on that...