Justin, Patrick, Katrina, Hannah, Alex, and Satomi-san right here! Throughout our internship, we went on a number of journeys and tea-related festivals and occasions, each individually and as a gaggle. Being positioned within the Kansai area, there are numerous prospects for locating many alternative locations in Japan. On this weblog, we are going to let you know a bit of bit about these journeys since they could encourage future interns and also you, pricey reader, who’s following Obubu’s story! 🙂
The primary week of our internship was wealthy in experiences! We bought to go together with Matsu-san to a yearly tea-picking and hand-rolling occasion in Higashiomi. Earlier than the occasion, we visited the sustainable neighborhood initiative “Nanohana Mission” manufacturing facility, which cultivates canola oil, in addition to recycles oil to refine it into biodiesel gasoline on which the residents function the Chokotto Bus “Eco-Tomo”.
It was raining loads that day, due to this fact, the tea leaves had been picked earlier than we arrived. The ex-mayor may be very captivated with tea, due to this fact, he helps this initiative and we had a stunning lunch at his home. Then, Matsu-san taught us and all the visitors methods to make Kamairicha: we pan-fried the tea and rolled it on bamboo trays for a number of rounds, and dried it till it was able to drink. After the occasion, we went to see Lake Biwako and had some ice cream collectively.
Shigaraki is positioned about half-hour by automobile from Wazuka the place we dwell. It’s such an enthralling city that the majority interns have visited greater than as soon as, not just for the tea utensils but additionally for the type folks they meet in Shigaraki. Shigaraki ware is a pottery with a protracted historical past and tradition that has been produced for the reason that Kamakura interval and is legendary as one of many six oldest kilns in Japan. It’s also synonymous with tanuki collectible figurines, and you’re certain to come back throughout some distinctive ones right here!
In case you have a longing for one thing candy, there’s a place the place you possibly can get pleasure from mushy ice cream produced from Asamiya tea, which is able to fulfill each your coronary heart and abdomen. To not overlook additionally the unforgettable expertise in Miho Museum: the architectural design is built-in into the pure environment throughout the mountainous panorama of Shiga prefecture. The museum reveals artwork from historic civilizations together with Japan and the traditional orient, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and America. Picture: Ujitawara.
Present intern Alex Dubovoy traveled with former intern Alex Billingsley to Koyasan, a sacred mountain in Wakayama Prefecture. First settled by the Buddhist monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi) in 819, Koyasan has been a pilgrimage web site for over a thousand years and is the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism. Shingon is a type of Vajrayana, or esoteric, Buddhism, which implies that it’s significantly completely different from different sorts of Japanese Buddhism and bears sure resemblances to Tibetan Buddhism. Although Shingon has all kinds of attention-grabbing arcane and secret practices (learn: ghosts, exorcism, fireplace), Koyasan can also be a welcoming place for guests. It’s significantly recognized for the custom of shukubou or visitor lodging. So, each Alexes stayed at Muryokoin, a wonderful temple, and took part in temple companies at 6 AM (sure, fireplace, numerous fireplace 🔥).
They had been handled to pretty shojin ryori meals, the Japanese vegetarian delicacies typically meticulously served at temples. They sampled native specialties reminiscent of koyadofu (freeze-dried tofu), gomadofu (sesame tofu), and…nicely, tofu. Each Alexes are additionally enthusiastic goshuin gatherers. Once you go to temples in Japan, the temple workers will generally provide to write down calligraphic inscriptions and situation a purple stamp in a particular pocket book (referred to as a goshuinchou).
Collectively, the Alexes will need to have gathered practically 30 stamps! Their go to wasn’t full and not using a nighttime wander by the native graveyard, the place Kobo Daishi is believed to have remained alive in fixed mediation since 835 👻 Oh, additionally it was Halloween weekend 🎃
Deer, deer, and extra deer! Stunning temples and classic shops! AND, an exhibition that made our ‘deer’ Mushi Justin (a reference to his intern venture ‘Mushi Mokuyoubi’, i.e., ‘Insect Thursdays’) very pleased: Naramachi Dung Beetle Gallery. Shigaraki, Nara, and Kyoto are probably the most accessible and close by locations for weekend journey, due to this fact, the interns went there typically. We advocate going to Nara Park, Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple, Isuien Japanese Backyard, and Naramachi Procuring District. Enjoyable reality: Patrick ran from Obubu’s home to Nara station! (half marathon)
If Nara made ‘Mushi’ Justin pleased, then Dobutsu Justin (referencing his different venture ‘Dobutsu Douyobi’, or ‘Animal Saturdays’) was simply as happy in Kyoto: Arashiyama Monkey Park and the Bamboo Grove! Our pretty temple fanatics Katrina and each Alexes had been additionally excited to fill their goshuinchou to their coronary heart’s content material when doing the Thinker’s Stroll and actually getting into each single temple and shrine for a short prayer.
This picture is from Tenryūji Temple, certainly one of Woo Jae and Katrina’s ventures, the place the dragon painted on the ceiling in one of many temple’s halls serves as an optical phantasm: the dragon will stare at you regardless of the place you stand within the room.
Intern Katrina and Hiro-san participated within the annual 5-day enterprise journey to Fukushima metropolis for a kimono gross sales occasion on the “Kimono Iwaki” principal retailer. They brewed our beloved Wazuka teas for the workers and clients, the primary teas being Obubu’s Hojicha, Kabuse Sencha, Genmai, and Sakura Sencha. Katrina ended up chatting with kimono craftsmen and came upon that one of many masters makes Sengoku period type kimonos, and certainly one of them was dyed with tea leaves! Iwaki-san was very proud of the tea and our constructive vitality, due to this fact, he generously gifted Katrina a yukata and the equipment that include it. Thanks! The laborious work was rewarded with 2 days of vacation, due to this fact, on the best way again to Wazuka, Katrina spent that point in Tokyo, which resulted in significant and galvanizing encounters that proceed to gasoline her goals. She bought to satisfy Tengyo Kura, a Japanese storytelling vagabond; and Jeff Fuchs, a Canadian tea explorer who accomplished the Historic Tea Horse Highway. Take a look at their inspiring work and writings! Tea connects folks (higher than Nokia, no offense).
We additionally had a distant weekly intern assembly, when Katrina was working hectically round Sumida metropolis in determined seek for WiFi. After efficiently discovering it on a road close by Tokyo Skytree, George and Woo Jae referred to as (“why is my face on the projector!?”). Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
As soon as upon a time, Matsu-san kindly invited interns to hitch his tea ceremony lesson taught by Nakai-sensei (Urasenke schooled tea grasp). Alex, Patrick, and Hannah immediately agreed and continued their research through the internship, in a while, joined by Satomi-san and Katrina. The earlier intern Moe-chan is also certainly one of Nakai-sensei’s college students, due to this fact, we extremely advocate her faculty! George has additionally carried out a couple of classes! (we’re fortunate to have Alex and Matsu-san as interpreters who kindly translate the lesson, due to this fact, heads up that you just would possibly want some Japanese language abilities by your facet). She creates a classroom, the place it’s okay to make errors so as to study. We regularly have a great chortle, and he or she is such a mild and sort particular person (Nakai-sensei additionally makes scrumptious wagashi sweets!).
We had been fortunate sufficient to additionally go to the World O-Cha Competition, a significant tea occasion that takes place each three years in Shizuoka metropolis. It was pleasant to get to satisfy different Japanese tea producers and people which can be captivated with tea. For instance, we chatted for some time with Bret Mayer who launched us to the Shizuoka Tea Rolling Preservation Society and their pretty handmade teas. Other than ingesting tons of magical teas, one of the memorable issues inside this competition was the Music Dynasty (960-1279) matcha preparation workshop for the reason that powdered tea that we all know as matcha was delivered to Japan by Zen grasp Eisai throughout Music Dynasty, i.e., Kamakura interval. The interns bought to find out how “dian cha” (matcha) was served: firstly, a small quantity of boiling water is poured (this motion is named “dian”) right into a Tenmoku chawan to make a “tea paste”. The small pours are adopted with vigorous 1000 whisks (roughly, clearly) and this course of is repeated 7 instances. Nonetheless, within the final two, the whisking is far more light to make the froth as frothy as potential with out massive bubbles. And lastly, we draw with koicha (a tiny quantity of tea paste that’s ready individually), which in Chinese language is named “chabaixi” – historic artwork type of calligraphy and portray on tea froth (within the image, Alex’s kanji for Wazuka). After the competition, we stumbled upon an izakaya the place the proprietor’s birthday was celebrated, and an ex-mayor of Shizuoka metropolis ended up giving us a stunning lecture concerning the historical past of Japanese tea and its significance in Shizuoka. But, the adventures didn’t finish there.
After attempting the very best teas from throughout Shizuoka on the World Tea Expo, a couple of of the interns went on a spontaneous journey. Whereas attempting to navigate town, we took an surprising flip that led us to Route 223, which might be learn as “Fujisan” in Japanese. Crossing Shizuoka Prefecture Highway Route 223 is a uncommon expertise as it’s traveled by ferry, throughout Suruga Bay, connecting Shimizu Port and Nishi-Izu Toi Port in simply over an hour. This brief cruise was a tremendous alternative for us to chill out and luxuriate in views of Mt. Fuji. Whereas exploring the attractive shoreline of Izu Honto, it was simple to see why that is acknowledged as one of the visually beautiful locations in Japan. Alongside the best way, we took a couple of breaks at unbelievable and memorable places. Amongst our favorites had been: Sawada Park open-air onsen in Nishi Izu, Inashimo Shrine, Matsuzaki City (one other of Japan’s 100 Most Stunning Villages), and Matsuzaki Seaside, the place the day was made full by an unforgettable sundown.
One weekend within the fall, we had been invited to a competition in Tokoname, additionally one of many six historic kilns of Japan. Naturally, we needed to go. Takayuki-san of Issei-Touen Tokoname (@issei_tokoname) was our host for the day and he graciously took us round Tokoname. The day began with a beautiful sencha and gyokuro brewing demonstration the place we went to attempt completely different tea units from completely different native potters. Afterward, Takayuki-san launched us to many alternative potters (together with one which made dinosaur teaware! [IG: @takawogama] ) and galleries exhibiting lovely items of Tokoname teaware.
We noticed two completely different pottery demonstrations, one involving throwing a kyusu on a conventional wheel and the opposite, creating teapots and not using a wheel. Ending off the day we ate dinner with our fantastic host Takayuki-san. Additionally, we bought to pet cat celeb Marron-chan (@kamasaka_marron) and made off with half of Tokoname’s teaware, so nice day general.
Tea connects folks, but once more. Katrina bought invited to go to Yamada-san (Chakoubou Yamadaseicha) and Yamaguchi-san who warmly welcomed her to Fuji Metropolis due to their latest journey to Latvia.
Collectively they roasted kukicha in a houroku pan on a Swedish torch in a tea plantation subsequent to Fujisan alongside a beautiful BBQ and many tea, had a short sencha manufacturing facility tour, and visited Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre and Fujisan Hongu Sengen Shrine, in addition to had a visit to the Izu Peninsula with its spectacular volcanic coasts.
The following morning, Yuki Takahashi and her household kindly welcomed Katrina for a brief shamisen, shakuhachi, and koto lesson. And at last, a short official assembly on the Fuji Metropolis Corridor the place tea and the way forward for friendship between Japan and Latvia had been mentioned. We’re trying ahead to welcoming Yamada-san to Wazuka and Obubu quickly!
Uji is the epicenter of tea! It’s the place the primary tea bush was planted in 1190 when the monk Eisai introduced it from China. Tea is all over the place right here, in all completely different sorts of shapes: tea and pottery retailers (reminiscent of Asahi-yaki), matcha ice cream, matcha ramen, matcha takoyaki, matcha gyoza, and so forth. All of us attended the Uji Tea Competition, which hosted a number of tea occasions and stalls by numerous tea producers and native craftsmen. Hannah and Katrina additionally loved the exhibition on the Tea Museum in Uji. The interns additionally visited Akky-san’s buddy Yamamoto Jinjirou (@yamamotojinjirou) whose household has been rising and producing tea for six generations. They specialise in hand-picked tencha and matcha, that are produced within the oldest tencha drying oven in Japan. They develop solely Asahi and Samidori cultivars, that are picked solely as soon as per 12 months in spring. The shading practices additionally embody the preservation of custom: Yamamoto-san grows rice to cowl the tea bushes with rice straw as an alternative of the black artificial fiber covers. We had a good time collectively and everybody went dwelling in a automobile full of baggage of all types of various tea-related items!
Truthfully, the workers members had been stunned by how a lot vitality we had for touring in spite of everything these loopy harvests and processing evenings! We’re grateful to Obubu and this internship for these alternatives as a result of it has taught us first-hand about tea A LOT, in addition to made this type of exploration very accessible. Interns are very fortunate to have the assets to go to so many lovely locations in Japan throughout their days off. Thanks Obubu, thanks Japan! We’re trying ahead to witnessing the tea adventures of future interns and coming again since we made so many fantastic mates right here! 🙂