Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kennin-ji 建仁寺 Tea Temple

Monk Eisai 明菴栄西 (1141-1215) brought Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism and tea seeds to Japan. He served as Kennin-ji's (1202) founding abbot. Zen Master Eisai, (Eisai Zenji 栄西禅師 ) is buried in the temple grounds. Tea and Buddhism almost go hand in hand in East Asia and specially so in Japan possibly because it helped in meditation because it calmed the mind and uplifted the soul.

The earliest tea book in Japan (How to stay healthy by drinking tea) was written by him. It opens with this statement, "Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one's life more full and complete".

Appropriately you can see tea bushes all around the temple complex including a small tea garden / nursery (middle) and tea bushes being used as hedges (bottom photograph). The temple complex is an easy walk from Gion in Kyoto.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kimono Parade

One of the most elegant dresses in the world is probably the kimono. It looks so graceful whether it worn by a young girl at a temple or at a formal wedding reception photo or while going out informally with a friend (also in a kimono) or when serving tea. I understand that they are handed down or gifted from mother to daughters. Truly a a token of refined love.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spring Memories

Late spring memories
flood over me as I watch
day's winds now dying
the evening beach where you rowed
away, leaving me crying

- Kyogoku Tamekane (1254-1332)

Soon it will be spring. Tea tasting paraphernalia get ready to welcome the new spring teas. Unlike poet Kyogoku Tamekane sama they have no spring memories of previous years' teas.

The tea taster? Ah! That is another story. Quite another story and much like Kyogoku Tamekane sama's poetry.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lonely People

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice

In the church where a wedding has been

Lives in a dream

Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door

Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people

Where do they all belong?

- John Lennon & Paul McCartney 1966

Photo taken by another lonely person at Doutor Coffee Shop in Nishi Kasai, Tokyo.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

German Wirtschaftswunder

Images of German tea shops. As one would expect in Germany, attention to detail is everywhere. From the exterior of the shop in Reutlingen in Baden Wuttemberg; the way teas are arranged inside the shop; and the manner in which tea pots and accessories are displayed in a tea shop in Munich. Full attention to the customers is the norm. Yet they are warm and cozy or gemütlich. No wonder the Germany is a wirtschaftswunder and is blazing ahead in Europe while other countries are struggling.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Golden Brew

In Nepal I have had sweets and fruits wrapped in very, very thin gold or silver foil. In 2010 for the first time I had tea with gold flakes in Nagoya. It made an good presentation with the gold glittering against the pale green of brewed Gyokuro. These photographs really don't do justice to the actual gold tea. Needless to say the tea tasted better than would have otherwise!