Saturday, July 1, 2017

Chado in Context: Introduction to a New Series

There is a theme running through my postings, and in fact, every discussion, not to mention presentation, of chanoyu: context.

The most notable one is ichi go. ichi e. One time. One meeting. Here+Now. C'est tout!

It is equivalent to a shechehiyanu ... a Jewish blessing traditionally said at the beginning of every festival and, by me, at every clear opportunity to remember that life is precious.

I have often written about my background as a left-handed, Jewish, cross-country skiing feminist. Matsumoto sensei corrects me with a kind remembrance that the right way is "natural", but, in my case, it must be learned. Chanoyu did not come naturally to me.

Many of my past postings are inspired by and discuss the situation in which a chanoyu demonstration takes place, such as on a mountaintop, a theatre or classroom, etc. Aside from Rikyu's tiny tea space, what is the most effective "container" for the gathering of host to share a bowl of tea with a guest? What are we keeping in? What are we keeping out?

The practice of chado emphasizes the seasons, of course. What is appropriate for the day just before the first snow? (How will we know until it snows?) How to schedule and stage a yobanashi-chaji that enables the guest to experience the sunrise after the long night?

There is also the matter of toriawase, the harmonious relationship of dogu used in a chanoyu gathering. Each piece brings out the best in the other without bringing attention to itself.

I will begin this series in earnest with the next posting. I hope you will enjoy.