|bokunenjin (bokunenjin) wrote,|
@ 2011-05-03 06:38 am UTC
Last Wednesday morning's first lecture was by Hamana-sensei on the architecture of the tearooms at Gakuen, the school building where we (usually) have both our classroom lectures and our tearoom practice. The third floor of Gakuen is a large window-lined space that is usually covered with tatami mats—I'd guess over a hundred of them—but can also be converted to an auditorium for school-related ceremonies and such. The second floor includes several classrooms, a library, a reception room for guests, and a ryurei room for practicing temae that use tables and seats instead of tatami. The first floor includes an office space for school staff, a large kitchen, and six different eight-mat tea rooms, the first couple of which were the subject of this lecture. When you're in the first-floor tea room area, you'd never guess you were in a concrete building. The architect did a brilliant job of hiding the concrete pillars and providing a living dictionary of different tea room styles along with meeting the usual functional and aesthetic requirements for tea rooms.
Next on our schedule was a lecture by Yamamoto-sensei, the gyotei-sensei who had taught our senpai in tearoom practice the previous day. As we introduced ourselves, Yamamoto-sensei asked us questions about what interests us about chanoyu and used our answers as opportunities to talk about a range of topics from wagashi to the ceremonial role of sake in Japanese culture to the naturalist aesthetics favored by Japanese wabi-type tea people and Scandinavians. This discussion ended up taking the entire 80-minute lecture period, which I don't think Yamamoto-sensei originally intended but which was educational and interesting perhaps more than the original lecture material would have been.
In the afternoon, we practiced wakei with Hamana-sensei. Wakei is a procedure with lots of little movements to remember. The men in our class had practiced the night before, but June and I hadn't, citing a lack of practice space and appropriate utensils in our dorm. You could tell which of us had practiced. In retrospect I think we should have improvised with whatever we had on hand and used our own dorms rooms as practice space. I spent the whole afternoon feeling frustrated alternately about the womens' dorm lack of available practice resources and about my failure to deal with that lack productively instead of turning it into an excuse not to practice.
Thursday was ro-furo irekae, the day when the non-Midorikai students switch the tea rooms from the sunken hearth (ro) configuration to one in which a smaller brazier (furo) sits on top of the tatami mats. As a result, we had jitsugi in the morning at the large practice space in the men's dorm, which required some coordination as far as figuring out what items Midorikai had available there and what we needed to pick up from Gakuen (wagashi, flowers, charcoal, ash). We continued practicing wakei with Murata-sensei.
In the afternoon we Midorikai students did our part in the day's changeover by cleaning the second-floor classrooms just as we had earlier in the month, right after the school entrance ceremony. So we don't get an opportunity to see the actual procedures for closing out the ro and getting ready to use furo.
Since we finished cleaning earlier than we'd normally finish afternoon jitsugi, I had a little spare time during regular business hours to take a few of my kimono to a cleaner that reputedly does a decent job with them for not too much money. The kimono I took there were a crimson iromuji that's actually the first kimono I ever had (and which suffered a bit in the previous week's unexpected rain), a pink-and-gray komon kimono I picked up from the pile left behind by previous Midorikai students, the light green iromuji from Harajuku Chicago whose stain I found only after I'd bought it (and all sales there are final), and a nagajuban with a yellowed collar. The total was around 8400 yen; I can pick them up this Saturday (the Golden Week holidays slow things down a bit), so I'll see how good a job this cleaner does.
This was Shōwa no hi, so we had the day off from classes. I headed to Fushimi Inari-taisha to fulfill my years-old desire to walk the entire length of the place (about 4 km of trails, with a number of side-tracks). Although the areas closer to the main shrine were a little crowded, I didn't notice particularly more people there than I'd seen in the past on non-holidays, and in areas farther along the trail it wasn't unusual for me to be alone among a stand of mossy stone monuments (otsuka) and the calls of songbirds in the tree canopy above. I stopped for lunch at one of the trailside restaurants perched atop a steep hill and had my pick of tables, so I sat in the tatami area right beside one of the windows, where I enjoyed the feeling of being up in a treehouse as I ate my kitsune udon and inarizushi. A little later I stopped at an overlook for kinako soft-serve, thus doubling the number of new soft-serve flavors I've tried in the past month (others included honey-and-black-sesame and black soybean). I love the natural beauty at Fushimi Inari-taisha. There's one particular low area of otsuka where the evergreens are really tall and where a curious person can find an opening through some large stones where a small stream has been diverted into a waterfall in a sort of grotto. I don't know the name of this area because I was never really clear where I was on the trail with respect to the maps at any given time, but I'm sure I'll make a note of it when I return. On my way out of the shrine I got an omamori for success in my studies along with an omikuji that I couldn't read or interpret. Doh! Turns out its summary is 小凶後吉 (blessing after small curse), so I'm going to tie it to something at the next shrine I encounter. Here are my photos from Fushimi Inari-taisha.
When I got home I got in touch with Anna and we met up for dinner, but between our late start and our indecisiveness in choosing a restaurant, I ended up having to bail out partway through dinner to make my curfew. I'm going to be staying at her place for the next couple days of holidays to prevent that from happening again. :)
On Saturday I joined some of my classmates in the morning to help Matsunami-sensei with cleaning the garden at Ryosen-an, but we got there early enough for a session of zazen beforehand with about a dozen other people. It was a chilly morning, and the door to the zendo was left open, so I wished I'd worn another layer under my samue, but the chill ensured I didn't fall asleep. Cleaning the garden afterward was really difficult due to the tiny red somethings dropped by the Japanese maple trees onto the moss below. Have you ever tried sweeping moss? There's a fine line between sweeping too gently to make any progress and sweeping too vigorously so that the moss separates from the ground. It felt like an exercise in futility, but after making some progress our cleaning session was declared over and we gathered around a table for tea and conversation.
After returning to our dorms, changing from samue into normal clothes, and gathering some of our classmates who'd opted to sleep in, we wandered around our neighborhood looking for a place to eat lunch. Many places were closed, presumably for the holiday period. Eventually we found a hole-in-the-wall soba/udon shop where I had a satisfying 500-yen bowl of curry donburi. The rest of my day was rather slow, mostly involving napping and reading.
On Sunday I headed to a local department store to pick up some things for my room, including an electric kettle, a stepstool, and a wire rack shelf unit, the latter two of which I had delivered (for a quite reasonable fee of 450 yen) because I had no way to carry them home on the bicycle. I did a few other chores including cleaning the filter in my air conditioning unit and removing the shitsuke (basting thread) from the dark green iromuji kimono I picked up from the pile of leftovers in preparation for wearing it the next day. In the evening I met Anna for parfaits at Lipton and much wandering around along Teramachi and Shijo.
On Monday morning we first gathered in the genkan at Konnichian to receive our monthly stipends from Iemoto (the reason we had to wear the formal iromuji kimono). As we were waiting in line, right before we were announced to Iemoto, Daisosho came along and started peeling off bills from inside his pocket and giving them to us! Weird! But yay! But weird! But I'll take it. Scholarships and bonuses in hand, we reported to our classroom for a quiz on chitosebon and wakei. I think I did pretty well, but on a question about who formulated the wakei procedure, I didn't see Tantansai's name among the answers. I figured I must have misremembered who came up with it. Doh. Turns out Tantansai is also known as Mugensai, which was among the answers. Not the one I picked, though. Now I know.
Following the quiz was a lecture by Hamana-sensei on more May seasonal topics, including sweets (kudzu-starch sweets start to appear at the end of this month), flowers, and an event called shoburo that celebrates the beginning of the furo season. Hamana-sensei then went on to continue the Gakuen chashitsu lecture, covering the less formal tea rooms and the hallways.
Our afternoon jitsugi was hishaku warigeiko and hakobi usucha temae. For hishaku warigeiko we each needed to practice in front of a separate kettle and brazier setup, so we were up on the expansive third floor of Gakuen. The ambiance up there is much different from downstairs, what with all the light and the views and the space. Since the weather was mild, the windows were open somewhat, and the wind whistled through at times, creating a kind of rooftop-of-the-world Tibetan feeling. The day's wagashi was awarimochi, which at first glance you might mistake for kashiwamochi since it's enveloped in an oak leaf, but this awarimochi uses yomogi mochi instead of regular mochi.