Our Tea Journal

 

Here you will find a compilation of all the stories we have to share about our experiences with herbs, teas, the Japanese Tea Ceremony and so much more. 

Please feel free to peruse them all and don't forget to like and leave a comment. 😊

'a place for spiritual and physical cleansing before entering the Japanese Tea Room'


There is a significant power that the flow of water has for purification.

As humans we are made up of more than two-thirds water so, naturally, we are all affected by the presence of water. In fact, the presence of water within Eastern culture has held immense spiritual significance since the dawn of time. This is no more evident than when it comes to the Japanese Tea Garden and the Japanese Tea Ceremony itself.


Tsukubai (蹲) (Tiny stooping purifying basin)




A Tsukubai is a low wash basin found in most classical Japanese tea gardens, temples, and shrines.


In the Tea garden, the tsukubai is near the entrance to the tearoom and not in direct view from the tearoom. It is somewhat hidden by carefully placed shrubs and trees. A lantern is oftentimes placed nearby.



They are usually made of stone with water which flows from a bamboo pipe. A stone with a depression serves as a wash basin, and a bamboo ladle is sometimes provided for the guests use. Sometimes the water that is poured into the basin from the bamboo pipe stops and starts the flow of water depending on the weight of the water flowing into it.


One has to stoop down to use the basin, a custom that was adopted from people washing their hands in streams or purifying themselves at holy washing troughs at shrines before worshipping the gods.



Before entering the Chashitsu (the tea room) all guests are required to wash their hands and rinse their mouths. This ritual purification is done themselves by pouring some water over their hands with a Hishaku (bamboo ladle) and finally rinsing out their mouths with some from the palm of their hand. This is a similar process to what can be seen at most Buddhist Temples around Japan.



It is believed that the act of using the water from these wash basins purify the minds and spirits all those who are entering a sacred space.


My Very Own Tsukubai



In lieu of my own personal Japanese Tea Garden, I recently procured a mini tsukubai as an addition to my indoor garden space.

Do you have any water features in your home garden? What does it represent to you?


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"a day when the sun crosses the equator causing night and day to be equal in length."

Shunbun no Hi is a national holiday in Japan, a day to commune with nature and to show affection for all living things.

Every year the Vernal Equinox is celebrated as a National public holiday in Japan (unless it falls on a Saturday and then too bad no day off for you).


It is dedicated as the First Official Day of Spring and marks the end of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. (Thanks Goodness!)


It falls on either the 20th or 21st of March each year.


Rituals



With its origins in Shinto tradition, Shunbun no Hi (pronounced shoon-boon-no-hee) is a day to honour nature and care for all living things. It is also a day to remember ancestors by visiting shrines and praying for a bountiful harvest. In Japan, visits are made to the family grave, cleaning it and offering flowers and incense to console ancestral spirits.


It is also celebrated with the eating of special dango (rice cakes) called ohagi botamochi.


Japanese sweet - ohagi botamochi - made with rice and red bean paste

The annual spring holiday season which begins on Shunbun no hi lasts for approximately 16-days until April 5 (the start of Japan’s fiscal year). This is also the time when the school year ends and a new school year begins with graduates moving on to new schools and starting new chapters in their lives. Persons who work in the government or larger corporations might experience job transfers as well.


Cherry Blossoms [桜]


During this period, Japan’s sakura [桜] -- cherry blossoms -- start blooming in many parts of the country. People generally take this opportunity to travel all around the country to view the cherry blossoms or to have flower viewing picnics called hanami [花見] with friends and loved ones (weather permitting).



How do you spend your Spring Equinox?






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炭点前


"Making up the Fire"


Charcoal setting procedure for the Japanese Tea Ceremony


What is Sumi?

In a narrow sense, charcoal (sumi) is a combustible material containing carbon as a main component, which is obtained by steaming and carbonising organic matter. Products such as charcoal , bamboo charcoal, and coconut charcoal are used as fuel. In the Japanese Tea Ceremony it refers to the pieces of coal of varying sizes and shapes which are placed into the Ro (hearth) in order to ensure that there is sufficient fire available to heat the water for the Tea Ceremony.



The Utensils

The SumiTemae Ritual requires the following items: 1. the kettle (kama) 2. a basket container which contains most items needed for the ceremony - various types of charcoal (sumi) - hooks (kan) for removing the kettle from the hearth - a feather (hane) - iron chopsticks (hibashi) for placing the charcoal - ceramic container holding the incense (kogo) 3. a special folded piece of paper for placing the kettle on 4. a container of ash with a metal scoop for placing the ash in the hearth 5. large feather for final cleaning of tatami mats




The Ceremony


From bringing all the necessary items into the room to the placing of the various pieces of coal, along with the incense the SumiTemae ceremony has strict rules and sequences that must be adhered to. The Kettle (kama) is removed from the hearth in a specific way and the area is cleansed by a feather throughout the procedure. refilling the kettle is also a part of the process as is the final cleansing of the tatami mat after replacing the kettle and before leaving the tea room. There is so much more involved with the process which can only be understood through years of practice.





The Practice


At the beginning of my Tea Ceremony journey in 2017, I never thought that i'd ever be able to complete this ritual. It seemed so difficult as well outside of the realms of things I would be capable of doing. But that's the thing about practice. The more we do something, the easier and easier it seems to become. The same goes for the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The journey towards perfection is the gift not the act of perfection itself.






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Iyashi

pronounced 

“ee-yah-shee”

 

means:

v. to heal, treat, remove pain, or quench one's thirst.

&

n. a place of warm solace and restoration, where one comes to find peace, balance and harmony.