Thank you, Mom!
Margie, my guide in learning more about Japanese culture and the tea ceremony, encourages her students to choose tea equipment carefully. No rushing to buy an unknown piece on eBay. The right tools will come to us in time, and they need to have a story. I love this idea.
Here's the story for my first pieces. The chawan, or tea bowl, is from Japan. It's special to me because I found it after having learned about what makes a good tea bowl. What an eye-opening experience! I had no idea of the thought and detail put into a tea bowl. Mine is classic in its shape, has the proper foot depth and the correct ridge where the cloth rests as you clean the bowl. It has a definite front and back, which helps a newbie like me. And it's a good example of understated beauty.
I've named this tea bowl iki wo suru, which means "to breathe" in Japanese. It's meaningful because breathe is my word for the year. Each time I use this bowl, I will think of of my breath.
Tea bowls often come in specially made boxes, and the box belonging to this bowl is a large part of why I chose it. The box is beautiful in its own right.
The crispness of the black natsume (tea caddy), I'm learning, presents a contrast to the more rustic elements often found among the other tea equipment. What I like about the natsume is the sound made when the lid is placed back on after having scooped out the tea. It's a simple click that reminds me of something ephemeral from my childhood.
The chasen (whisk) is of central importance. This humble tool generates the right froth in a bowl of matcha. I have many, many, many more cups to whip to become proficient. This whisk and I will become good companions.
I picked this tea bowl and other equipment on a sunny Spring afternoon, in the company of Margie and another good friend. The items are a gift from my mother for my birthday. I'm sure this is the beginning of many happy memories associated with their use.