Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If Rikyu invited you. 2

Rikyu contributed a significant influence on the latest fashion of the tea ceremony during his time.  He is more concerned about the comfort for the guests and the essence of having pleasure with the tea.  For these reasons, if Rikyu would be performing his tea ceremony these days, I think he would embrace the usage of modern technologies and way of living, but still, imposing his own masterpiece tea the unique way he is famous for.   He might even use Facebook, air-conditioners, and chairs.  What would you expect on Rikyu’s contemporary tea ceremony?

Speaking of creating the latest fashion, the other day on TV, I saw a creative chef using iPad as a plate for dish.  He placed sea food on the iPad covered with a clear plate.  A video footage of the seashore was continually played on the iPad.  So, this ravishing cuisine, seashells and fish looked like flowing on the sea.  Delightful!  It looked fresh and lively.  I think this amusing way of serving food stimulates our imagination.  When I saw it, I thought that Rikyu, who has created new standards, might have tried this kind of approach on his tea if he lived today.

Meanwhile, there's a tingling little doubt that maybe he will not.  He may not favor that kind of sophisticated approach. He quested for simplicity in his tea, and attached a high value to the spiritual aspect by eliminating unnecessary things from the tea room.  I’m not so confident about this matter but I am kind of leaning on the latter opinion, Rikyu’s.  I think that he may use the air-conditioners, but not the video footage.  What do you think?

Monday, September 24, 2012

If Rikyu invited you. 1

If Rikyu invited you to a tea ceremony today, how would he treat you?   What do you think?   Can you imagine him using modern technologies such as email, an electric kettle and the air conditioner?  How would his contemporary tea room and utensils look like?  It is so interesting to give a thought about it.

I bought a book entitled “Moshimo Rikyu-ga Anata-wo Maneitara” or “If Rikyu invited you”.   I was a bit disappointed that the content and the title are not so related.  I could not get a clear picture of the question of the title.  The book mostly talks about the thoughts about The Way of Tea of the author.  He is Sen So-oku, a young tea master of Mushakoji family.  Even though my expectations were not specifically met here, I was surprised to realize that I like how Mr. Sen So-oku laid out his approach to this precious tea ceremony of ours.  I find some of his thoughts quite agreeable and favorable. 

I prefer Mr. Sen So-oku's concept of likening the tea room to a secret hideaway in a metropolitan city - snob, classy restaurant or for exclusive member's bar.   He emphasizes that The Way of Tea should be a little of extraordinary activity in our daily lives.  However, just as everything and everyone else in this world has evolved, the traditional way of tea has become very special.  We don’t wear kimono or use charcoals to boil water anymore.  The way of living nowadays does not always include rooms that have tatami and tokonoma in it.  He teaches we need to practice The Way of Tea in two perspectives.  One is the traditional way and the other one would not be conventional, instead suited for the current modernized methods of tea preparation.  I have vaguely felt a little oddness for the distance between the traditional way of tea and our modern way of living.  We should go for the way of tea which fits to our lifestyle. 

I will discuss about this farther in the next post.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Japanese consume 18 boxes of tissue per capita in a year.  We are the most tissue consuming nation in the world.  I learned it from a morning show the other day.  They did a street interview about Japanese tissues to the foreigners visiting Japan.  One person described Japanese tissue as soft as a cat and another one said it was smooth like silk.  It’s very interesting.  We seem to have good quality tissues compared to tissues overseas.  It’s not about tea, but I’m going to talk about it today.

So, why do we have thin and soft tissue?  The TV show explained it.  Japanese have 20-30% thinner skin compared to people from other countries.   Not to get one’s nose red by blowing, Japanese prefer fine texture tissue.  And also, many people suffer from hay fever in Japan, and the chances of blowing nose are comparatively high.  I thought it’s a reasonable reason.  I really appreciate for soft tissues during the hay fever season. 

You often find some men giving away free tissues on the streets in downtown.  It is a popular advertising method in Japan.  By saying “Konnichiwa, Dozo (^0^)/”,  I have actually done that job. hahaha
There are some premium tissues, which are an extra-smooth one, one with fragrant or design-printed one. 

Come to Japan to try some tissues.  I’m sure that you are going to be addicted to it, haha (^-^)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jake-gai book

There are some tea rooms that I have yearned for.  They are not traditional ones.  Their walls are trellis.  In the photo that I saw online, the tea rooms emerge in the dark with the soft light slipped through from inside.  The interior looks so fantastical and extraordinary.
The photo of the tea rooms >>>

I bought a book entitled 茶室とインテリア or Tea Room and Interior.  I was just captivated by the beautiful design of the booklet.  It’s Jake-gai, hahaha.  (Find out the meaning of Jake-gai  >>> here)  The book explains about Japanese architecture from the historical and cultural aspects.  

I had not given much of a thought to the roots or culture regarding our architecture.  I learned that taking off shoes when entering a house involves a meaning moving in to a holy place.  I also learned that we perceive that the space and interior in Japanese housing always change. Japanese architecture historically doesn’t have walls.  Our housing was basically a big open space with posts and roofs, and we have used it by separating with bamboo blinds and sliding doors as occasions demand.  We also think that garnishes don’t have to be persistent and it will be fine if they shine at the very moment.  I think this philosophy leads to the concept of tea flowers.

A fact that I am surprised about was that the tea master, Rikyu was the one who brought the walls into Japanese architecture.  He created the walls on tea rooms.  It is a revolution!!  The author explains that Rikyu made the room small and found out the potent of the elation and concentration of your mind.

It is very interesting to learn these backgrounds.  I did a quick search about the author, Shigeru Uchida.  It turns out that he is the one who designed the tea rooms that I have yearned for.  What a coincidence!  I think I won this jake-gai!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


On my summer vacation, I found an attractive store on my way of a trip to Gero and Takayama.  The sign says EnaSuya.  EnaSuya is a popular shop for chestnuts confectionery.    I immediately thought that I should visit this place on my way back home.

Nice looking entrance

Traditional Curtain Outside the Shop.
A common tradition for most Japanese Stores.

Café space is comparatively small from the size of the building.
All tables are faced outside.

This is the outside view of the cafe.
I had Matcha.  Others had shaved ice with peach-juice syrup and one with brown sugar syrop.

 It took quite some time to be served, but I enjoyed the tea and their sweets.  The shaved ice was excellent.  It is a nice place to stop by and visit.

EnaSuya  (Japanese) >>>