Friday, July 6, 2012

茶会! (In which we meet for tea.)

Attended a very special 茶会 tea gathering yesterday, the first official chakai in a friend's 茶室 tearoom in her home. It's a two-mat room; our hostess told us this was the last style of tearoom that Rikyuu built, and it's easy to see why—so intimate (and efficient)! We did the whole thing, from washing at the 手水鉢 chouzubachi through koicha and usucha. We started off with an amazing meal together in the tearoom—marinated salmon with toasted nori, taro root and stems, a rice cake with greens and edamame, a dish of pickled items (including daikon and a really interesting ginger flower), miso soup with fiddlefern heads, and delicious cold osake, which was perfect for a hot July day. 超美味しかったよ。 本当にご馳走様でした。 We finished the meal with blueberries in cool, clear agar-agar (an algae-based gelatin that functions as Jello but without the hooves)—incredibly yummy. So much work for our hostess!

We retired to the machiai to relax and chat a bit before koicha; then back into the 茶室 for koicha and then usucha. The first 茶碗 tea bowl was dark and friendly, and the viscous green residue of the koicha contrasted beautifully with the dark glaze, like a deep forest when the trees are wet. (Our hostess told us that Rikyuu liked dark bowls for exactly that contrast.) The second was much lighter and had a special property of "blooms"—some kind of microbe embedded in the bowl that expands colorfully in reaction to hot water (and then shrinks again as the bowl cools). For koicha the 茶入れ chaire was also of a rich, darkish glaze, with a very helpful drip to tell us which end was the front. :-) (This is important because things always have to face the right way, and the right way tends to vary. A lot.) The 仕覆 shifuku (cloth container) for the chaire was of a bright gold stitching on lighter background, almost a brocade, and, with its darker cord, had a funny way of, when laid on the floor, actually looking like a teapot. I think the name for this style is 茶筅飾り, but really it was to honor first use of one of our hostess's 水差し misuzashi, a portly ocean-blue guy perfect for summer. In the tokonoma, a shikishi of 薫風, a warm summer/fragrant breeze, and thyme from the garden for fragrance. Truly, a great pleasure, and a great honor to be 正客 first guest, even though I'm not very good at it. へへへ

This morning I tried to write a few new things, just for fun. 四字熟語 four-kanji idioms and things appropriate for tea—和敬清寂 and 喫茶去—and some other things that I just like, like 順風満帆 ("fortuitous wind, full sails", which always makes me happy), 七転び八起き ("seven times falling, eight times rising"), and of course 酔生夢死. My writing was egregious, even by my own low standards, so I'm glad that Tanabata is coming up so I can wish for better writing. 今晩の七夕祭りのための特別な茶会、本当に楽しみにしていますよ。


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