One of the many media outlets that covered New Horizons’ New Year’s Day 2019 flyby of the most distant object ever explored by humankind was NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting organization. To celebrate the new year and the flyby, I hosted a tea gathering for the visiting NHK film crew on New Year’s Day with the help of two friends and tea classmates, among other invaluable helpers behind the scenes. I’ve wanted to host a space-themed chakai for ages, but it’s hard to identify a set of guests who would appreciate both the tea form and the space theme. This was a perfect opportunity.

I’m pleased to say the event went well. We all enjoyed ourselves, and the NHK crew members expressed heartfelt appreciation for the experience, a respite from an intense period of work on what’s easily the biggest holiday of the year in Japan.

Following are a few paragraphs on my planning and preparation. tl;dr: it was exciting, stressful, and instructive in a way that perhaps only tea people can appreciate, though I’ve tried to avoid tea jargon as much as possible so non-tea people can have a chance of understanding.

I scoured my tea utensil bins for items with space motifs that weren’t too obviously meant for (Tanabata in) summer. I resumed my stalled tinkering on designs for space-themed lid rests and tested whether the plastic was liable to melt under a hot kettle lid. I ordered a can of matcha from a company whose name and many of whose teas’ names start with 星 “hoshi,” the kanji meaning ‘star.’ I commissioned a work of calligraphy from a talented shodō-practicing classmate of mine. I considered astronomical motifs I could apply to a sweets tray and studied how to use metal leaf to apply them. And this was in December, when I was already designing, carving, and block printing end-of-year greeting cards; making and shopping for Christmas gifts; and being slightly occupied at work by preparing to usher a spacecraft through a close encounter with the most distant object ever explored by humankind!

Apparently unable to rest when I get it in my head to make something, I decided a few days beforehand that it would be nice to give my guests a copy of the utensil list printed on the back of my block-printed greeting cards. This led to hours of studying unfamiliar kanji to be able to read and write the names and makers of some of the Japanese-made utensils, as well as learning the Japanese counter word for “installed or mounted objects” (!) in order to describe the lid rest I designed depicting three Deep Space Network antennas. I’d also learn that my tea container’s name 三光 refers to a combination of three “bright” cards in one of the games you can play with hanafuda; it’s poetically apropos given the three celestial designs on the container that attracted me to it in the first place.

To accompany the pressed-sugar New Year’s sweets I bought, I made simple traditional buckwheat cookies called soba bōro (using this recipe but baking them for no more than half the time suggested). I wanted them to be shaped like little stars, echoing the dry sweets served along with New Horizons-shaped sweets at a Tanabata chaji hosted by a former Midorikai classmate. After 3D printing a scaled-down version of this star-shaped cookie cutter I found its walls were too thin and weak, as often happens with models printed smaller than they were designed to be; MakePrintable saved that model, but in the end I preferred the results from the tool I’m now sure my friend used at the Tanabata chaji—a Chinese bellflower-shaped cutter. The resulting shape is like a star with just enough chubbiness to render it cute. (If we had known the shape of New Horizons’ target in time, I would have made them in that shape using the cookie cutter I designed using CookieCaster.)

Below is a record of the utensils I used and—where applicable and known to me—their makers.

花 Flowers

椿と南天 camellia and nandina

花入 Flower container

黒唐津焼き black Karatsu-ware

掛軸 Scroll

色紙:宇宙 Shikishi: "uchū” (universe/cosmos/space)

Robert Bernhards 「伯恩」"Haku-on"

釜 Kettle

筒釜 竹地紋 cylindrical with bamboo pattern

棚 Shelf

宗旦好丸卓 Maru-joku in the style favored by Sōtan

水指 Fresh water container

染付 sometsuke

薄茶器 Tea container

三光棗 糸目 "sankō"

中村宗悦 Sōetsu Nakamura

茶杓 Tea scoop

銀河 "ginga" (Milky Way)

西村寿峰 Hisamine Nishimura

主茶碗 Main tea bowl

天の川 瑠璃釉 "ama no gawa" (Milky Way) with lapis lazuli glaze

八木海峰 Kaihō Yagi

替茶碗 Second tea bowl

「NASA」

Tom Sachs

建水 Waste-water vessel

餌畚 efugo

蓋置 Lid rest

ディープスペースネットワークの椀形アンテナ三基 trio of Deep Space Network dish antennae

内製(3Dプリント) self made (3D printed)

茶 Tea

星授 "seiju"

星野園 Hoshinoen

干菓子 Sweets

打物 molded sweets

ばいこう堂 Baikōdō

そばボーロ soba bōro

内製 self made

菓子器 Sweets tray

月相 moon phases

内製 self made

from my chanoyu.space blog http://bit.ly/2THpWRd
via IFTTT
at Raccoon Creek State Park
from Flickr https://flic.kr/p/2aqd1D1 via IFTTT
at Raccoon Creek State Park
from Flickr https://flic.kr/p/PnSGEc via IFTTT
my first astrophotography 初めて天体写真術
from Flickr https://flic.kr/p/MLeRQt via IFTTT

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