Yesterday was a long day: I did a tea ceremony presentation for high school students at Missions Fest Seattle. There were a lot of preparations, but what resulted was a uniquely Pacific Northwest style of tea ceremony. (It wasn’t necessarily “correct,” but sometimes it’s fun to be creative.) Let me explain.
|Here's my setup. Unconventional, but that's not a bad thing.|
There is a precedent for this way of thinking. Sen no Rikyu, the founder of tea ceremony as it is currently practiced, repurposed everyday objects for use in tea ceremony: peasants’ rice bowls became tea cups, tubes of bamboo became flower vases, and rustic iron cauldrons became kettles for tea water. I’m just putting Rikyu’s wisdom into practice… is what I say to justify myself.
I collected various tools in Japan and brought them to Seattle, but a hearth (furo) was too large and heavy. I figured I could find something comparable. Thankfully, the fruit stand at the bottom of the hill was selling their planter pots at half off for end of season clearance; I purchased a large (despicably heavy) brown clay planter.
This setup needed some work, though. First, I needed an electric burner to keep my tea kettle warm. I found one on Amazon for $13. Sweet!
Next, I needed a slab of wood to keep the planter from damaging the picnic mat I sit on when doing tea ceremony. The picnic mat itself was a life hack, since transporting tatami mats from Japan would have been nearly impossible. I asked my dad if he might be able to cut a cross section of a tree and clean it up a bit. In typical fashion, he took my simple request to a whole level beyond what I had expected. Dad chain-sawed a round off a log from a tree behind our house (part of the tree was rotten, so it had to be cut), then cleaned it up in his workshop.
|Dad working on the cross section of log to make it pretty.|
|My kettle (tetsubin), which I brought with me from Japan, hanging out in its new home (planter pot fitted with two slabs of maple tree). The tea tray in the foreground came from the same tree. And of course, my beloved picnic mat and tea basket.|
|Dad bends the side of the tea tray with his bending iron|
We didn’t have enough chawan (tea bowls) for the number of guests we expected. Solution: Say hello to my first project in pottery class.
|It's a bit lumpy, but it worked out fine.|
|Here's what they looked like before they went in the oven. I forgot to take an after picture. Preoccupied with other stuff, I guess.|
|Last minute practicing in our living room|
Yesterday, I got up at what seemed like the crack of dawn to do final preparations, and off we went!
I thought there would be 10 high school girls for tea… but far more showed up than expected. After the first 14 or so, Keith started taking down reservations for a second session. Thankfully, I brought more than twice as many kuri manjū as I thought I needed.
|This was session #2.|
This morning I had tea ceremony class. I enjoyed being served by my teacher and fellow students after experiencing firsthand the extent of the preparations for an ochakai (tea gathering). Next time there should be fewer tools to make from scratch, though.