茶の湯 in サンフランシスコ ・ Japanese Tea Ceremony を San Franciscoで

表千家四方社中の茶の湯ブログ Japanese Tea Ceremony Blog for Shikata Shachu – Omotesenke

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年越しそば 2014・Year-end Soba Noodles 2014


It’s that time again. Time for “toshikoshi soba” (buckwheat noodles eaten at the year-end). We had soba noodles for our last lessons of the year.


I often heard in the past that it was a Japanese custom to eat long noodles at the year end praying for a long life.


However, there appear to be various other theories.  To show you a few:

  • 年を越してからそばを食べることは縁起がよくないから。
    • It’s bad luck to eat old soba noodles in the new year.
  • そばを残すと新年は金運に恵まれず(そばを買う?)小遣い銭にも事欠くことになるから。
    • It is bad luck to have left-over soba noodles; you won’t even have enough pocket money (to buy more noodles?) in the new year.
  • 金銀細工師が金箔銀箔を延ばす為または金粉銀粉を集める為にそば粉をつかったから。
    • Gold and silver smiths used soba dough for thinning gold/silver into foils or collecting gold/silver dust.
  • 「そばを食べている人は脚気にならない」、「そばが五臓の毒を取る」などと信じ られていたから。
    • Soba noodles were believed to keep a disease called beriberi away or cleanse organs.
  • そばが切れやすいことから、一年間の苦労や借金を切り捨て翌年に持ち越さないよう願ったから。
    • Soba noodles are easily breakable, thus symbolizing “severance” from the old year’s sufferings and debts and starting the new year fresh.

For me, there is only one reason.  They taste great!  Have a great new year.


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師走茶会 2014・Shiwasu Tea Event 2014


Shiwasu Tea Event was hosted by the local Tea Society at the Nichibei Kaikan building n San Francisco.  Practitioners from the Urasenke School were in charge of soba noodles, whereas the Omotesenke School handled serving usucha in the tea room.


The scroll read: buji (無事).  It is a popular scroll for tea in December.  But “buji” in this context has a different meaning from its colloquial usage, such as “buji-de-naniyori” (“glad there was no incident).


This word is attributed to the founder of the Rinzai sect, Rinzai Gigen (Linji Yixuan) of the Tang Dynasty China.  The state of not coveting or not being entangled with anything, the state of being free from scheming, and the state of being one’s self.  That is “buji” as also used in a phrase: “buji-kore-ki’nin” (無事是貴人).

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長緒の仕覆・Shifuku for Naga’o

定家緞子・Teika Donsu

長緒はやはり慣れでしょうか。短緒のときには打ち留めをかなり引き出し緒を左右均等にしますが、長緒の扱いは違います。打ち留めは少しだけしか引き出さ ず、つがりを向こう、こちら伸ばすことによって打ち留めが袋の左端にピッタリ来ます。そして右側の緒で輪を作ってゆきます。生徒のお点前で気が付いたので指摘しました。
I suppose there is no better way to conquer naga’o (long string) than to keep practicing.  When handling mijika’o (short string), you pull the knot out quite a bit to make the string equal on the right and left sides where the string is exposed.  Not so with naga’o.  You pull out the knot just a little – just enough so that when you smooth out the pouch (the far side first, then the side closer to you), the knot is right at the end of the left end.  Then you make loops at the other end.  It was spotted during one of my students’ otema’e – so I let him know.

We used shifuku made of a fabric called teika donsu.  It has a double-strand arabesque pattern of chrysanthemums and bellflowers.  Despite its name, it has nothing to do with Fujiwara no Sada’i’e, often referred to as “Teika” as well.  It actually comes from the kimono (uchikake) pattern worn by a courtesan, Teika Dayu’u, of Shimabara (a red-light district) in Kyoto during the Genroku era (1688-1704, Edo Period).  Come to think of it, the pattern is rather flowery and not something you would associate with a wabi-sabi poet like Fujiwara no Sada’i’e.