Chaxi at the 7 river bends

While not an extreme chaxi, this was a beautifully memorable one. Our host in japan, Mr. Yasuo Koike, has been of the most gracious sort, and we are now in Shizouka, a tea growing Provence.

We made a special 2 part chaxi on top of Asahi Dan Mountain overlooking a section of the river known as the 7 bends; being our first (serious) chaxi in japan, we decided to go with a Japanese theme.

Japanese Aesthetics are all about symbolism, so for this late 80’s Taiwanese oolong we used a chanoyu fan with rukyos poetry, and kashi paper under the gaiwan. We chose the tea because it tastes like plum, and plums are one of the symbols of Sen no Rukyu the founder of Japanese tea ceremony.

That set us up nicely for part 2; matcha chaxi!

We use the open fan as our hanging scroll, and the view as our tokonoma. Mr. Koike whisked tea first in his Oribe tea bowl; the green and white of the bowl were picked up by the green pine and the white kashi paper, both serving to enhance the colour of the matcha.

He also whisked tea in my Korean Persimmon bowl (by Mr. Lee); persimmons are a autumn fruit, reminding us that the joyful warmth of summer rains will soon be replaced by colorful leaves lofting on the breeze as they whip past the brushwood gates across japan. Very wabi. Again, the play of white and green bring this chaxi to life.

I’ll end with the days poetry.

品茶 at the 7 river bends

 

Spread out below, the water flows,
Backed by summits I want to know,
I follow tea, at home as I go,
Because people know,
Sharing tea makes us free,
To feel and to see. All.

 

2 teas, 1 mind, this chaxi binds.

 

– Jason

Sumo

Sumo, unsurprisingly, is awesome!

I got lucky, and happened to be in Nagoya during day 3 of the tournament.

Each match starts with “cold warfare” – a stare down, where each wrestler gauges the other and decides when to strike. There`s a time limit of 4 minutes before the match must start, and they usually use all of it to mentally prepare themselves. The opponents often walk away from each other to take hand fulls of salt and throw it into the ring; a Shinto ritual to make sure no harm comes to the competitors. It probably also helps to psyche out the other 300 – 400 pound man in the ring. False starts are rare but they do happen, and while most matches end by one wrestler being pushed out of the ring, throws are the most exiting (and skillful) way to win sumo.

Defiantly a sport worth seeing.

– Jason

Finding Miso

Miso in japan ranges from premixed bowls to an art, and a beautiful art when made masterfully. My two favorites so far have been salty clam miso, and an easy drinking breakfast miso in our hostel-ryokan in Shizuoka.

This miso was made with all organic ingredients and a couple of grubs; I was a little confused as I was told that they don’t eat bugs in japan… so I asked the owner and he confirmed that suspicion!

Turns out the grubs like to hang out on daikon radishes, and were not an intended part of the dish. But they were delicious (particularly the crunchy cricket). He apologized profusely and offered to take it away, I demurred preferring to finish the soup. Good stuff.

How does it compare to the other bugs?
Very well really, being boiled in miso doesn’t leave much of their own flavor, but it sure beats the bugs we found in Taiwan… those should not have been in our soup.

– Jason