radhardened: (special occasion kimono)
2017-02-01 03:02 pm
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chabako utensils

Ultimately this information should be on the Chado Encyclopedia wiki, but that's currently un-editable.

It will be assumed that all of these require—along with a source of hot water such as a tetsubin on a binkake—a box with a lid, chawan, usuchaki containing tea, chashaku, chasen and chasen-zutsu, moist chakin and chakin-zutsu, fukusa, kobukusa, furidashi containing small sweets, and kensui.

Shikishi-date 色紙点 may be added to this table a later date, but has not been included in the initial version because its utensils differ substantially from those used in the other chabako temae.

Unohana 卯の花Tsuki 月Yuki 雪Hana 花Wakei 和敬
trayX1 X2
shifuku for chashaku, usuchaki, and chawan XXX
kakego XX
usuita X
second chawan X

1 Most commonly yamamichi-bon
2 Most commonly hanagata-bon
2015-10-16 03:23 pm
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wagashi recipes for chanoyu: a link roundup

The Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association (UMAA) contributed wagashi recipes is easily the largest English-language collection of wagashi recipes suitable for chanoyu. Here are some other recipes I've found for wagashi that are suitable for chanoyu. Please comment if you have others!

  • Yatsuhashi is a classic Kyoto sweet.
  • Botamochi and ohagi (same recipe) are especially appropriate around the spring and autumn equinoxes, respectively.
  • Uguisu mochi gets its color from green kinako. A different green mochi sweet, kusa mochi, gets its color from yomogi (mugwort).
  • Some may consider walnut yubeshi a bit rustic for tea, but we served it to Oiemoto for the 2011 Midorikai Christmas Chakai in yuzu, black sesame, and shoyu/kurozato varieties.
  • Also on the rustic side is kintsuba, a block of yokan coated in a thin batter and griddled; sweet potato kintsuba is a notable variation.
  • On a field trip to Oimatsu, our class learned how to make kizatou, suhama, and uchimono.
  • There are two basic types of sakuramochi: kanto-style and kansai-style, a recipe for the latter of which is in the UMAA recipe collection linked above. Kashiwamochi is similar except with "regular" mochi instead of domyoji or crepe, wrapped in an oak leaf instead of a cherry leaf, and usually white instead of pink.
  • Nerikiri is a smooth, sweet dough that can be formed into an endless variety of shapes, including a peach and a chrysanthemum.
  • Chakin shibori is a versatile form that can be made from various foundation ingredients to suit different seasons and themes: sweet potato chakin shibori and kuri kinton are two examples. A wide range of sweetened purees can be used—squash, pumpkin, fava beans, peas…
  • Mizu yokan and sweet potato yokan recipes are easy to find in English.
2015-06-18 07:39 am
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preparing to burn

I haven't done a sumi temae (charcoal procedure) in over three years; like many a Midorikai alumnus, I miss it as we make do with electric heating elements under our iron kettles. Combustion isn't allowed in our keikoba, and proper charcoal is expensive and prone to break in shipping—many keikoba in Japan don't use charcoal on a daily basis for these reasons, though at Gakuen one wouldn't think of using anything else.

Gradually that urge to play with fire has been growing, and last month when [blogspot.com profile] fail-better-blog heated the water in the LA tea trailer using charcoal, even if it was just binchōtan, the seduction was complete.

I already have an electric benibachi furo, but it isn't convertible for use with real ash and charcoal. Step one: get a plain furo, ideally in a dōanburo shape for ease of (my) doing and (guests') seeing the ash form. The funny thing is that haigata, or ash formation, was one of my least favorite things to do in Gakuen. I feel like it took me forever to do each one, and I never really got the hang of it—mine looked lopsided, choppy, and overworked. It was a task I approached with anxiety, possibly because I didn't have a chance to practice outside of the evenings I was on duty to do it in preparation for the next day's jitsugi. Or rather, it didn't occur to me that I could make a chance; the men's dorm contained our Midorikai utensils and equipment, including extra furo, so a diligent classmate of mine quietly borrowed one of them and found some ash to practice haigata regularly in his dorm room.

my new iron brazier (tetsuburo 鉄風炉)Back in the present day, I lucked out in finding an inexpensive used iron furo I like in the shape I wanted for sale on ebay. It arrived yesterday. Not having worked with an iron furo that wasn't a tokiwa furo, I brushed up on the differences in things used with an iron furo versus a bronze or ceramic furo. I believe they're limited to using a shikigawara instead of shiki-ita and using a red maegawara instead of a white one. Am I missing anything? I understand that furo made of iron are informal, or sō 草, in the shin-gyō-sō 真行草 scheme, which isn't surprising at all given my taste. I wonder whether that will limit the utensils I can use with it in my toriawase, or whether it can be placed on nagaita or daisu.

Starting with just the items that go in or under the furo, along with charcoal I'll need a shikigawara, ash, gotoku, maegawara, sokogawara, and hōshogami. I've been wondering what the purpose of lining the bottom of the furo with hōshogami is. Is it to cushion the unglazed ceramic sokogawara from the hard surface of the furo? Is it largely symbolic like the hōshogami in hōraikazari, providing a clean, pure base for the things on it?
2014-07-11 12:52 pm
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temporary tea spaces

I'm planning on doing a public chado event or two this year at Burning Man, tentatively in the base of Cosmic Praise, a climbable 50-foot tower with a spark chamber in the cupola that will be located at the 6-o'clock keyhole overlooking center camp. It won't be in the printed program—which filled up faster than I could find a venue—but I'll add it to the online event directory once I figure out when it'll be. The bottom of the tower will have a 12-foot diameter open space with a single doorway and 14-foot tall cloth walls, for reference. [livejournal.com profile] xuth, who will be part of the build team, points out that I may get too many people if I do this in such a central location, so I'm thinking about how to delineate the space so it isn't too inviting to casual passersby.

This challenge has me reviewing temporary tea spaces that others have built, and I'm so impressed by their creativity and beauty that I wanted to share:

more photos beneath the cut )
Incidentally, I'm trying to think of a name for my tea event. It should distinguish this from other on-playa tea events by referencing chado / chanoyu / Way of Tea. It isn't going to be ceremonial, so I think "tea ceremony" would be inaccurate. And ideally it would tie into cosmic rays. Any ideas?
2014-03-19 12:22 pm
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(no subject)

Yesterday's Morning Edition had an unrelated couple of stories related to stuff I do:

Space Thief Or Hero? One Man's Quest To Reawaken An Old Friend: Apparently our lab has the old hardware needed to command a comet-touring spacecraft to return to its original L1 halo orbit after decades farther afield.

Japanese Tea Ritual Turned 15th Century 'Tupperware' Into Art: Well, it's not terrible, for a mainstream media piece on chado history. It's kind of a shame Tankokai DC and the Smithsonian aren't coordinating more around the Chigusa exhibit; I'm sure the vast majority of the exhibit's visitors come away with the impression that chado is something no one does anymore, or at least not outside of Japan.
radhardened: (special occasion kimono)
2010-09-04 04:59 pm
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applying to Midorikai

I'm excited to announce that I'm planning to apply for a one-year term of study at Midorikai みどり会, the non-Japanese students' division of the (Japanese Ministry of Education accredited) Urasenke Gakuen Professional College of Chado 裏千家学園茶道専門学校 in Kyoto beginning in April 2011. I'm incredibly lucky to be in a position to be able to do this, if I'm accepted. I'd be taking an unpaid leave of absence from my employer, who is to my relief and gratitude supportive of my venture. I've got a couple of leads on trusted people to take care of my two kitties while I'm out of the country, since I'd be staying in a student dormitory (with a 10 p.m. curfew!) which I have no expectation will allow pets. Wish me luck! I'll keep you all updated on my application status.
radhardened: (pink background)
2010-04-01 11:34 pm

busy weekends

As suggested by one of my tweets, I did a bunch of stuff last weekend, and I'm feeling an urge to document it.

On Friday night I attended a photo lecture by National Geographic photographer George Grall on "Life on a Wharf Piling in the Chesapeake Bay". The photos were amazing. I had no idea there were corals and seahorses in the Chesapeake Bay. To be sure, a random look underwater wouldn't make it obvious that there's strange and beautiful life down there, since the bay's waters are often murky and the life can be on the small side for naked-eye viewing. Clearly Grall spent a huge amount of time waiting and strategizing for good shots. On the downside, the lack of spontaneity in his read-verbatim-from-notes presentation was disappointing, but the photos themselves made up for it.

On Saturday morning I participated in a Chesapeake Paddlers Association workshop wherein I continued carving the Greenland-style kayak paddle that I started at the same workshop about three years earlier. Last time I'd managed to plane the sides of the blank and mark it up with a pencil to guide my carving. This time, armed with a borrowed spokeshave, I made progress on the actual carving and quite enjoyed it. Alas, I don't have a spokeshave of my own—does anyone local have a spokeshave I could borrow?

I might have finished carving my paddle had I not had to duck out early for tea ceremony class. At that class I learned my first konarai-level ceremony. (Konarai is a level above the nyumon beginner level; each level at least theoretically requires a license granted by the grand master to study. I received my license to study konarai-level procedures last year.) This particular ceremony that I learned Saturday, called chasen kazari, was one to highlight any of the more utilitarian utensils, like the fresh water container. It wasn't especially tricky.

After class I joined the Mad Science Coffee crowd to play with handcuffs. :) No, nothing naughty, just banal experimentation with locks. I have a decent understanding of how normal handcuffs work now, as well as a realization that I wouldn't be able to pick a properly double-locked pair of handcuffs. Not that that'd probably be my plan if I somehow found my wrists enclosed by a pair of them.

On Sunday I attended the local Urasenke branch's Rikyuki, an annual ceremony that commemorates Sen no Rikyu, the father of Japanese tea ceremony. I had never been to this sort of ceremony before. For this event I tried wearing kimono entirely without in-person dressing assistance for the first time. I did follow along with a kitsuke DVD, and I used a pre-tied tsuke obi, the latter of which could be considered cheating.

Before entering the tearoom my first impression is always the welcoming aroma of the incense. When I entered this time, several things were new to me. For one, several ceramic vases were lined up in a row on the room's low sideboard. For another, a hanging kettle hovered over the burning charcoal in the sunken hearth. And lastly, the alcove contained a footed tray with a burning candle and incense, a vase of nanohana, and a sweet, along with a scroll depicting Rikyu and what I understood to be someone's writing in praise of him.

When our host (also our teacher) entered with a tray of flowers, we learned that each of us guests would dedicate a flower to Rikyu by placing it in one of the empty vases. Arranging flowers in chabana style with a roomful of people watching is a bit tense; I did my best with a pair of small white calla lilies. Next we watched the charcoal arrangement and got a chance to examine the han-neri (marbled ceramic, lit. "half-kneaded") incense container.

For the "snack" of a meal we were each served a tray with an ordinary-sounding but heavenly-tasting chirashi dish (rice with shrimp, grated tamago, lotus root, konnyaku, koyadofu, shiitake, and other stuff), nuta (spring onions dressed with a sweetened miso sauce), and a cup of savory broth with spring greens. After an intermission, we were served the omogashi, a fat teardrop of green yomogi-flavored mochi topped with a dollop of sweetened mashed azuki beans.

Then we were each served a bowl of thin tea. The most interesting utensil was the matcha caddy, a repurposed French glass vessel painted with a silhouetted scene of plants and birds. Sensei used a koukoudana style of utensil stand (one of Rikyu's favorite styles, naturally), a fresh water container made by Willi Singleton, and a tripod lid stand to evoke the tripod kettle trivet that is missing when we use a hanging kettle.

After the ceremony, I had a meeting to plan for this upcoming Saturday's Spring Chakai at the Sackler Gallery. With the cherry blossom tourist season in full swing and a planned hanami outing on Sunday, I expect I'll be having another adventurous weekend.