Topic ideas (9 replies and 13 comments)
In this thread we hope people will share their ideas and suggestion for future topics in the Podcasts
Hey Guys,I love the show. I was just thinking about a month ago that there were no podcasts about Tea, and that someone should start one. Great minds, and all that.I was thinking this morning about the value of the many temae that we learn as tea students. As you know not all of the teamae are particularly relevant to the average practitioner who's main interest is sharing tea with guests, yet they certainly have historical significance, and should be preserved and passed down. What are the most "useful" temae, and what value to the less practical temae, like kinindate, have for the average tea student? I think this idea would be a great topic for discussion.This led me to another thought. We all recognize the importance of Rikuy, yet I wonder how much of what we practice today can be attributed to him, and how much is the accretion of the various tea masters who came after. I have heard on occasion that this or that temae was developed by so-and-so, and I know that each Iemoto creates at least one temae for posterity, but can we tease out any specific temae, say hakobidemae, and say catagorically that it is from Rikyu? Or, who developed karamono or bondate?
Thank you for these great ideas. I have put both of them into our list of future topics. It helps a lot to get such input. 🙂
I would enjoy hearing everyone's opinion on the value of learning temae past the konarai level. Personally I enjoy thinking about the dogu from a historical point of view, and I like learning temae for the sake of the movements themselves, but with the exception of a modern utsushi, I will never own a meibutsu chaire of any kind, or a Song Period chawan. I doubt I will ever receive some luxurious fabric from royalty to turn into a shifuku or kobukusa. I guess I could imagine receiving a gift of koicha from a guest coming to a chaji, but beyond that . . .
You all seem to enjoy speaking about chaji, which I think is great, and so part of my question is, what is the purpose of learning a temae that most likely would never see a chaji (from the position of most overseas practitioners)?
We appreciate you taking the time to write to us 🙂 We have already recorded episode six, and in that episode we touch on the subject about studying temaes that you are unlikely to ever have the dogu to do for real.
Janet Ikeda gave a lecture a couple of months ago in California on the little known 18th-century work “Notes from a Kimono Sleeve” and discussed prominent women of the Meiji period who included chanoyu in the curriculum of educating young women. I think it would be great if you could interview her on that subject for a future episode.
Thank you for the suggestion. I think this sounds like a exciting topic. I hope we will bee able to do it 🙂
I was wondering if you all might like to talk about the phenomenon of "tea demonstrations." It was brought up briefly in the last episode when Aaron and Ula mentioned that Damian was one of the few people to begin taking lessons, and then sticking around, after first seeing tea at a demonstration. From my experiences in the US, in a few different geographical locations, it would seem that the demonstration is one of the few occasions that tea is done that is not a formal "okeiko" or a seasonal chakai that takes place within a tea group (I recognize that one might consider any tea thing "okeiko"). It also appears to me that there are several chashitsu in the United States and England that are gorgeous works of craftsmanship, but because they do not have kitchens or full mizuya and other adjoining structures, they are only appropriate for demonstrations or small-scale chakai, not full chaji.
Within a discussion, I would appreciate learning about the different formats of demonstrations that you all of experienced (content of narration, what types of temae, whether there is a distinction between who is a guest and who is in the audience, et cetera). What are the goals of giving a demonstration? I realize there is not a "one size fits all" style of demonstration, but given their prominence in the modern tea world, I would very much appreciate hearing what you all have to say.
Thank you for this great idea! I'll add it to the topic list. 🙂
I'd love to hear more about sumi (charcoal) for tea. As you've discussed on the show, charcoal is very precious and difficult to come by here in North America and Europe, as it's cost prohibitive to ship it and in most cases, shipping simply isn't possible. My tea friend Gavin has been experimenting. He's successfully made something in the right shape and texture, but it's not as simple as just "making charcoal". He even selected wood that was very similar to the wood used for chado charcoal in Japan, and when used in the tearoom it was smoky and unsuitable. Needless to say, creating charcoal for tea is a very delicate and precise process. Gavin and i would love to learn more about how to create "tea charcoal" for okeiko and tea gatherings. Are there any resources available in Japan regarding sumi for tea? Most of what i've found on the internet (alas, i'm limited to English at this point) is for hibachi charcoal, or "restaurant grade". Also, it appears that most charcoal used in Japan for tea these days is made in China. How can i learn more? Do you know of any charcoal craftspeople operating in Japan?
Thanks in advance,
all of the sumi-less students
Thank you for your suggestion, a lot of good questions in here.
I have a person in Southern Oregon making charcoal for me. He is using white oak and we have burned it on many occasions. It burns a little slower and hotter, and it smells a lot like cinnamon so we don't use incense. I also follow a blog where a guy in Hawaii has set up a kiln for making charcoal out of the native woods. He is using the charcoal for the forge, but with some adaptation, it could make charcoal for tea. He has plans and has experimented in changing some of the timing and parameters for making charcoal. If you are interested in his process, here is the link.
Hopefully this topic would not be too political, but what about the subject of women and tea? There have been fairly recent studies in English on this (so potential guests) but it might be nice to get Ula and perhaps other women's tea practitioners' points of view.
Whether discussing the not so glass ceiling, or the tendency (at least in Japan) for women to sit "lower" than men even if more senior. The differences in temae between men and women? Have any of you in Europe noticed that non-Japanese tend to want to see a woman in beautiful kimono do temae and then are surprised or disappointed to see a man making tea?
One of the most commented posts on my blog was a discussion about gomei. Where to get them, seasonal notes and especially how to find gomei for koicha. I think it would be a good discussion. Also, the topic of kimono, especially for women who do not fit the Japanese standard body shape. How to dress yourself and where to get things for kimono. (it might be more of an interest for women).
Another topic that I have seen plenty of interest in is sweets, sweet making and where to get ingredients to make sweets. Perhaps also a discussion of local confections that would be very good substitutes for sweets. For example, a New Year sweet from Iran is sugar coated rosewater almonds called Noghl makes a very good higashi.
Oh, I just thought about another one that students ask a lot, is about acquiring and reading scrolls in the tea room.
Great ideas. I'll add them to our list. I would like to get some good suggestions for the last one, as that is one of the most difficult items to get when your not fluent in kanji.
I'd like to see a discussion on Kyojo / Licenses / Certificates and the english translations of them. Especially the instructor level. For example, i've seen this level listed as different things in different publications:
the one incorporating Gyonogyo, daienoso, and hkitusugi as:
upper level certification, joukyuu, okuden, upper level student, 4th degree instructor, beginner instructor, etc.
I've also see professor levels associated with the various instructor levels, with varying degrees -- are you an instructor, assistant prof, associate prof, full prof, emeritus, etc?
also, the levels never listed in the published lists:
Kyoju-- full prof?
Seikyoju - Emeritus prof?
Meiyo-shihan - honorary emeritus prof??
I don't know if anyone has suggested it already, but how about a discussion of so, gyo, shin in tea? Like for bowing, writing on scrolls, dogu, etc.
Earlier someone suggested a discussion about women in tea. A great book in that respect is 'The tea ceremony and women's empowerment in modern Japan'. It is a phd dissertation by a Japanese antropologist and I found it very interesting. It also gives an interesting perspective on the history of tea.
Another idea for a topic is the student-teacher relationship. It is a special kind of relationship that is not so common in modern life. So you could look at it from a modern, Western perspective and also discuss what Japanese student-teacher relationships typically encompass, in terms of mutual duties, exchange of gifts, behavioral rules, etc.
Thank you for great ideas. I wanted to do the one about woman in tea, but I never got around to contacting the suggested guest. Maybe I'll try to get the book and then contact the author.
Again thank you for great suggestions.
The book had crazy prices at amazon, but I was lukyily able to find it at ebay for much less. I have ordered it and it should arrive sometime during April.
On this fifth anniversary of the opening of Washin'an, the Urasenke chado dojo in Washington, DC, USA, I'd be happy to be interviewed or to interview one of my instructors about this tea space -- the different tea rooms and mizuya, the challenges of setting up a tea space (including a roji!) in an urban office building, regular and special events that take place and have taken place there, etc. Let me know if you're interested!