Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sakura Time!

The past couple of weeks we’ve been caught up in cherry blossom (sakura) time. The weekend of April 9th we had our usual demonstration at Shofuso, the Japanese House, and then the following day was Sakura Sunday, the big celebration in Fairmount Park. The timing was absolutely perfect – the blossoms were just coming into bloom. Here’s a view from one of the main plantings of cherry trees:

We didn’t have a formal demonstration that day, but one of our students, Mary Lynn, set up under one of the cherry trees and did chabako, a picnic-style tea, for anyone who happened to stop by and want some tea. …

The following week, we had another tea gathering, this time for members of the Chado Association. This was something new for us – even though chabako is especially designed to be done outdoors, we rarely plan outdoor gatherings for logistical reasons. Even for a simple tea, when you’re serving a dozen people there’s a fair amount of stuff to carry out to the site, and of course you have to plan for rain or other contingencies. I’m very happy to say that the weather was mostly good. “Mostly” in that it was sunny and reasonably warm, but it was also very windy, which made it a little on the chilly side and caused some complications in making the tea.

There were little things – for example, the tea whisk kept blowing over – and then there were the messy things: every time I opened the lid of the tea container, a gust of wind came up and blew a cloud of powdered tea all over the place. The tray with the tea items was a mess!

However, the really important thing in any tea gathering is that the guests have fun and enjoy each other’s company, and on that score I think it was a success – everybody seemed to have a good time, and we got to see some old friends we hadn’t talked to in a while.

Here’s a picture of us under the cherry trees:

(This, by the way, is the same place Sakura Sunday is held.)

Even though we look like we’re all alone in the photo above, there were actually a fair number of people in the park, and as I walked around before and after I got a lot of questions about what we were doing. That’s another fun thing about doing an outdoor gathering – we get to talk to people about tea ceremony, and maybe share some things with them that they didn’t know before. All in all, it was a good day.

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