Jun 11, 2017

Seminar in May

May somehow became a very interesting month for tea ceremony practitioners; it is when we change everything in the tea room from winter to summer, and it is when we  practice intensely a special procedure, called Chabako. All tea utensils are smaller and they find their place in a small box, meant to be used outdoors.
This May we had a long, good and beautiful seminar with all five different types of Chabako procedures.
It is always a pleasure for our students to practice Chabako. Never did I know why or how this enthusiasm was formed, but I always enjoy it. Chabako practice happens only in May and in October, at least this is how we use to practice it.

HANA - The Chabako Procedure for spring

YUKI - The procedure for winter

TSUKI - The procedure for autumn

 WAKEI - two bowls in a  Chabako procedure

 Today we had some special guests: children from a martial art school. They enjoyed their first cup of tea.

At the end we tried some sushi in Bucharest :)


As I mentioned in the previous posting, I wanted to see how things have a life of their own. Well, they do! 
The book was launched on May 22nd at the Rendez - Vous teahouse in Bucharest - an intense game of intense colours in the middle of Bucharest, filled, on a hot sunny day, with curious people, sweating and sipping refreshing teas, ready for a good story. 

We arrived ahead of time, anxious to prepare the multi-media setup.

"Ceaiul si Ceremonia lui" is a book about tea and at the same time, a book about a mysterious rituaistic meditative dance developed around this very simple act of boiling water and making a good tea for a friend - the tea ceremony. 

The good and kind man Tudor Vlad Popescu, the director of the Meditative Arts Publishing House opened the event and introduced the two authors, Mihai Albu and Gabriel Caciula.

Budist meditation songs at Shakuhachi, a rolling video presentation of sequential images from a real "Chaji"  - the actual tea ceremony, melding smoothly with the stories of  presenters.

We had the honour of the presence of Mr. Ryohei Tobibayashi, First Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Romania and his wife. Mr.  Tobibayashi addressed the audience and expressed the satisfaction to see that such a book about the tea and its ceremony has the change to be published in Romania. 

Many years back, the pages of a book on a similar topic were printed in America: The Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo. The West was discovering this for ever miracle - Chanoyu - the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Today it was the time for the romanian public to find more about this ceremony.

Both Mihai Albu, the author of the first part about tea, and Gabriel Caciula, who took it on his own to open the doors to the fascinating world of the tea ceremony, thank the audience for sharing with them the interest for tea and gave brief presentations about tea and its ceremony.

The audience warmed up and interesting and refreshing questions started to pour in. What an invigorating moment!


The next day, a new event: the launch of the book in Brasov.
First of all: Brasov is beautiful.

Our friends this time were the team from the oldest library in town: the Bookstore "Sf. Iosif".
TEA with an academic touch this time. We cannot be more grateful to the people managing the library for their kindness and help.

The same care in preparing the event and then, when everything was ready, curious people arriving to start together with the authors a wandering journey in a world where the mind, the perception, the reality and the imagination change dimensions, stepping with care on the wet stones of a Japanese garden, sliding inside a small hut, where the only thing that the host can offer is that the mosquitos are small, waiting for the fire to be prepared, for the water to boil and a wonderful warm tea to be offered from friend to friend, for one time only, as the seconds pass and they are all different.

May 5, 2017


People dream, things come alive and sometimes books are written, sold, read and while everything should change and become something else, nothing happens except one thing: people dream, things come alive and sometimes books are written.
How could someone have the courage to write a book? To give names to things which have no name or can not have names. To form what does not know form.  To replace the reality with dreams about reality. Why? But, writing books happens. One more time I am wrong. It is reassuring.

I try to practice Chanoyu - the Japanese Tea Ceremony. This is what I do. In rest, one day, one man, who seems to know what he is talking about, tells me: "I am curious by nature and now I am curious about tea. I want to share with people what I learned about this thing called Tea". So far good. But it does not last long. "Could you help me and write about Chanoyu - the Tea Ceremony? We write a book together." I turned slowly my head towards him so I could see his eyes. My mind was void of any possible response.

Chanoyu is pure experience.
Mind, reason and aesthetic pleasure  are left behind, somewhere, to provide companionship for art connoisseurs, for artists, for craftsmen, for intellectuals, for poets, for Maecenas and Patrons of culture and social entertainment, for anyone, for Tea is for everyone. And everyone may have a say about Tea.
Chanoyu is a complete Japanese thing. Know Chanoyu and you know the soul of the Japanese.

During a visit at a museum in Vienna, I came across the following words: "Vulgarity is wanting something that you can't be or can't have. Vulgarity is born during the clash and cooperation present at the intersection of cultures. Vulgarity is when the unique becomes common, too available and is therefore a sign of abuse".
My sensei always told me "do not ask, just practice". Sweet words to replace "do not be vulgar, do not have an opinion or a want before you are ready to have an opinion". As clear and simple as that.

What happens when Chanoyu is practiced by non-Japanese?
Who knows, so many ways, so many minds.
Here in Romania, we are committed to practice with respect for the tradition as transmitted by our Oiemoto in Kyoto and with full awareness that we may in every moment lose focus and slip into the shadows of vulgarity. That should not happen!

I answered: "Yes, I am curious too. I will write this book with you". Knowing the impossible paradigm of writing a book, I want to share and I am curious to see how things have a life of their own, beyond my best possible guess or intuition. I want to talk about the impossible knowing that talking about the impossible is impossible. Things have a life of their own.

A year later, thanks to Mihai Albu, the friend and co-author of this work, the graceful support of the Meditative Arts publishing house, and the support of a group of close friends, the book Ceaiul si Ceremonia lui (The Tea and its Ceremony) is printed out.
The launching event  will take place on Monday, May 22nd at 18:00 at the RENDEZ-VOUS teahouse in Bucharest, on Edgar Quinet street, close to the University Place.
See you there!

Apr 29, 2017


TIME - although it seems that it exists only in our conscience as a useful invention, one thing is for sure: it passes very quickly in the immediate reality.

Grand Hotel Continental - Bucharest
And here we are again at the majestic Grand Hotel Continental in Bucharest, in our favourite Grigoresco room, ready for a new demonstration of Chanoyu - the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
As always, the event is organised by Calea Victoriei Foundation - an impressive, if not the most impressive culture promoting foundation one may find in Romania.

We arrive the night before and prepare the setup for the demonstration. The hotel personnel helps with grace. It is late, quite, we are exhausted but all is now in place. We are ready for tomorrow morning:

Chanoyu - the never ending question: what is it? Good luck with that! It is whatever you want it to be...... and yet! So we start with the beginning: who are we? what is it that we want? why?
The first part of the program:  LECTURE: Chanoyu as a ritual. Chanoyu as a mythological journey, a journey leaving the day to day noise and disorder to wait in silence, step through the path of purification offered by a roji garden filled with the singing of the birds, freshly splashed with water, to step inside chashitsu, to re-discover the purity, respect and harmony and find in the end the inner peace. The hand of God on your head, sipping the miracle drink you may understand the sense of Oneness. 

Before anything the formal definition of Chanoyu
Hard to take all this in a short time to a public who is open, kind, curious but of course a novice. Try to make sense out of this. But the public is also smart: they understood and stepped into the game.

The first tea demonstration - a tea gathering at 4 a.m. many many years back - on the way to the morning prayers at the temple. A monk and his son arrive to sip a cup of tea in the chill of the morning while the night fades away and the morning light sneaks into chashitsu - Mihai Nishiike had the kindness to help us here and showed to the public what concentration, respect and modesty is all about.
Usucha temae with Hisago dana
Taking sweets


The next demonstration: we are now today, 2017 and girls in beautiful kimonos serve tea during a chakai:

Making tea using ryurei chishin dana
The public observes with attention

Purifying the bowl

Offering the bowl of tea

Purifying the tea container

Everyone in the public had the chance to taste a wonderful nerikiri made for this occasion by Miyuki-Do shop and to experiment the taste of Matcha.
All concluded well. Students were happy that we had another successful presentation of the Chanoyu tradition for the Romanian public

Good work done! Congratulations!

Who am I? With all this ZEN I do not know anymore!

Kimono good for tea, Apple good for multimedia 

The team!