Tea gathering at Kobayashi En in December

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

I went to the tea gathering at Kobayashi En in Fuji City the other day with my friends. We all felt grateful for the generous and warm hospitality with which they served homemade sweet and delicious tea. We could also learn lot of things about tea ceremony.

Learning about tea ceremony is learning Japanese culture. Since tea ceremony comprises literature, philosophy, architecture, pottery, kimono, flower arrangement, cooking and tea of course. Tea ceremony is not simply drinking tea.

 Our everyday lives are hectic and it’s not easy to have a chance to enjoy tea in such special circumstances. This moment is very important for me.

After tea ceremony, we took a walk in the garden. It was sunny and warm for December. I discovered my favorite flower called “ wabisuke “. It’s a kind of camellia. (Green tea is also camellia, as I’m sure you know.) Camellia blossoms stand out in the winter garden with their glossy leaves and cute blossoms. Whenever I see these kinds, I feel like they are giving me energy.

 

The first tea ceremony in 2012 at Kobayashi En is on January 8th from 10:00.

Admission per person is \500.

 

Kimono

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

   

 

She came to English lesson in kimono for the first lesson of the year.

She can put on her kimono all by herself and looks very beautiful in it. Kimono is the traditional clothing of Japanese people, though many people can’t put one on without help. The kimono she was wearing is called “ tsukesage “ and it is a relatively formal one so it can be worn at wedding receptions, etc.

If you have a good look, you’ll see pine trees , plum blossoms, maple leaves.

That means this kimono is suited to three seasons (the one it is not suited to being summer).

The sash includes the design of “ gosyoguruma” or an old vehicle that nobles used to ride in.

Sashes are often even more expensive than kimono. I heard some people from foreign cultures buy sashes to decorate their rooms or make bags out of. Even though the quality may be very good, once it gets stains the price will go down. Many kimono and sashes are available at lower pricse at secondhand shop.

Kimono isn’t very easy to handle for me but it’s a great thing.

Tea Ceremony in Fuji City ( Shizuoka )

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The other day I went to a tea ceremony with a friend of mine. Kobayashi En in Fuji City has a nice tea room and they let people use their property when they are not too busy. Once a month between April and August (they don’t open but other months) anybody can join a tea ceremony there. So a person like me who doesn’t know much about tea ceremony can learn and experience it in authentic facilities. Every month different tea ceremony teachers and students entertain us or teach us with delicious matcha and almost always home-made confectionery.

Each person pays only 500yen. Since it’s held on Sunday morning, some people might feel too lazy to go there but I think it’s a nice start to the week. My friend can put on kimono without anyone to help her and she showed up in kimono! She looked very beautiful. The owner of Kobayashi En told me that daily clothes are good enough but everybody wore Sunday best except me. Tea ceremony likes tidiness but doesn’t like gaudiness. So Kimono worn at tea ceremony should be restrained and chic, like their kimono.

 

 I tried to take good photos in the tea room but it was too dark and my skill isn’t good enough to take things beautifully. On that day I learned that in tea ceremony, they always combine dark and light. This is one example: the shelf is square and this is darkness; on the other hand the ladle has a round part and this displays lightness. The darkness and lightness make great balance so it looks good. This idea is originated from China a long time ago. This rule seems to apply to many things in the world.

Cherry Blossom Viewing Part 1

Monday, April 5th, 2010

We went cherry blossom viewing in Kanbara. It was called Kanbara town but now it’s a part of Shizuoka Cty. This area is usually quite but it was very busy on that day.

During the Edo era, it was the 15th station ( from Edo ) of the Tokaido Highway. It still has many old houses.

First we went to the oldest house in this town ( about 180 years old ). In 1854 a big earthquake hit this area and many houses were destroyed but this house survived.

 We went inside and they showed us many old kimono.

 

 

This is a jacket for a fire fighter in old days. It’s very thick and heavy. This jacket and hood are reversible.

When fire broke out, fire fighters soaked these gears in water then wore them and went into the fire to save people or extinguish the fire.

When they succeeded in their job, they put the jacket and hood inside out to show that they ae heros.

       

 

Here she tried on interesting kimono. It looks gorgeous but this is underwear for kimono. This is very expensive kind.

              

I heard that kimono can be judged by its lining. Probably it goes the same on underwear.

            She bought this kimono coat. It was almost new. It was a little cold and she needed something to keep herself warm. She was wearing very modern fashinable clothes but somehow this old kimono coat matched very well. It was only 2,000 yen. 

We spent too much time in this house. We had booked lunch at a different house so we hurried on.

   They served ” Edo Gozen”. It means Edo style meal. The theme of today’s lunch was spring.

We had chirashi zushi, soup with prawn dumplings, radish salad called ” shiraae” ( the sauce seems to be made from tofu, sesame, salt sugar and broth ), grilled sea bream and a dumpling called Joruru manjyu.

We all enjoyed each dish and nobody left the food and some people even asked for seconds on sushi ! After lunch our exploring continued but I’ll save the rest of it for the next entry.

 

 

Hina Dolls in Shizuoka

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

 I discovered a cute Tsurushibina or hanging hina doll. You can see a cat with a gold coin. They made a set of hanging Hina dolls from old kimono cloth.

Some areas have Hina festival from March 3rd for one month and others start on April 3rd.

They believed that if you touch the dolls, the dolls will take all of your bad luck onto themselves. After doing so people place  the dolls down the river or ocean. Since they throw them away, that type of hina dolls was very simple.

 In the Edo era, as people’s lives became more stable they started to decorate more expensive hina dolls and they didn’t throw them away in the river.

By the way ” a gold coin before a cat” in Japanese is ” neko ni koban”. Neko means a cat and koban means gold coin. It means ” Don’t offer anything of value and merit to those who are incapable of appreciating it”.

Happy Wedding

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

 One of my students got married and I was invited to their wedding party. The party was held at http://www.fugetsuro.co.jp/ It used to be the 15th Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobus property and is now used for these kind of gatherings.?It is such a beautiful place. 

?It is said that more than 700,000 couples get married in Japan and more than 60 percent of all Japanese wedding ceremonies are?Christian style. However this couple had a Shinto Wedding at Shizuoka Sengen Shrine. http://www.shizuokasengen.net/index.html

I know another couple who are going to get married this month and they are going to have a wedding at the same shrine.?

 

The bride was dressed in white at the Shinto Shrine. After that she wore a colorful kimono at the party. She looked so beautiful.?The party was fun. We heard stories about how they got to know each other, etc.  We also enjoyed a delicious dinner.

 

 

 

Later she wore a white wedding dress. She looked great in the dress, too. When she made a thank you speech to her parents she was in tears and her tears were as beautiful as diamonds. I was touched very much and almost going to cry. I didnt know that she is such a great speaker. All in all she married a very promising engineer and he is loved by many people. Im sure she is going to build a happy family.

It was such a nice wedding party.

 

 

 

 

Kimono Lesson in Fuji

Monday, December 14th, 2009

 A lady from the U.S. and a man from Australia tried kimono on the other day.

They look great, don’t they ? When they were in kimono, they participated in a tea ceremony.

 

First they had confectionary. ” Oh ! yummy ! ”

Then they had powdered green tea. Before having it , we have to turn the cup twice to avoid drinking from the decolated part of the cup.

When they finish the tea they have to slurp so that the host or hostess knows that they have finished it then he or she moves on to the next stage.

After that we paid a visit to ashrine nearby. Wearing kimono seemed to be a special experience for them. The lady has already tried on Yukata, cotton summer casual kimono, but this time she tried a silk Furisode on for the first time. Firisode is a very colorful long-sleeved kimono which is worn by single ladies on formal occasion.

 A peacock is represented on this kimono.

The man’s kimono is a semi-formal one.

He practiced walking in wooden clog and looked very excited.

Specia sockes called ” Tabl” madehim a lot.

 

     

He practiced walking in wooden clogs and looked very excited. Special socks called ” Tabi ” made him laugh a lot. Kimono teacher and her staff are very efficient people. They could managed to do the lady’s hair do and clothe them in kimono in anout 20 minutes while chatting.

   They said that they are really happy to see people from different culture enjoy and appreciate kimono. Kimono is a wonderful treasure and they hope more people will try kimono on. Some people think kimono is something expensive , but it’s not always so. One kimono can be handed down from generation to generation. The size is quite adjustable so many people can share the same kimono. Second-hand kimono are available, too. They are quite reasonable. Why don’t you try kimono on !

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Kimono, Japanese traditional outfit

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

I visited a kimono teacher’s house. She teaches how to put on kimono. You may think it’s strange but not many Japanese people can put on kimono by themselves so they take lessons. Basically you can wear whatever you want but kimono has its rules. Depending on the age, occasion and season, we need to choose a suitable kimono to wear.

People think kimono is a luxurious garment. It may be right but kimono can be handed down from gernration to generation, as long as we take good care of them. Mrs. Sudo, the kimono teacher, also helps people to have their portraits taken in kimono.

She showed me some examples.

  They are her kimono students. They chose their favorite kimono and a professional photographer took their portraits. There are some nice site to take photos around her neighborhood. This one was taken at Yonenomiya Sengen Shrine in Fuji city. At that shrine we can enjoy cherry blossoms as early as February. In this photo you can see a daughter and her mother, each of them wearing kimono suitable for their age. Of course as I said before you can choose whatever you want but I can see at any age people can show their own beauty.

This one is also her kimono student. She hs been dreaming to wear this type of kimono with a white parasol. By coordinating parts such as sashes, strings, hair style or parasol, etc, kimono enable us to create numerous possibilities.

If you are interested in trying them on or taking photos, please contact us. They have some kimono for men, too. Just trying it on costs about 5,000 or 6,000 yen. Or you can buy second-hand kimono at her place. They are very reasonable.

Rakugo ( telling entertaining stories )

Monday, February 16th, 2009

 I went to a Rakugo performance given by a British Rakugo entertainer called Diane Kichijitsu. She has been in Japan for 18 years. She is a very powerful entertainer. She also has certificates in flower arrangement and tea ceremony. She has 120 kimonos and can dress herself in them without any help.

She was fascinated by the late Katsura Shijiyaku, a famous Japanese Rakugo performer who did Rakugo in English. She told us many interesting stories. Let me tell you one of them.

Rakugo is a unique artform. The performers have only a fan and a handkerchief as props and a single performer tells vivid stories using voice and gestures to convey the parts of men, women, children, the elderly, etc. For her it was very difficult to explain to her mother what rakugo is like. She sais, ” I remain seated on a mat and talk alone for 30 minutes.” Her mother sounded worried and said ” That sounds like a very lonely job. Are you OK ? Do you have friends? ”

Later her mother had a chance to see her rakugo and found it interesting and understood what it is.

A British friend of mine said,” I’ve been to most kinds of Japanese traditional performing arts, but never to Rakugo. I suppose it is because humour usually requires a very high understanding of language and culture. But I should try.”

Diane Kichijitsu appreciates Japanese culture so much, may be more than some Japanese do. She encourages us and gives us a lot of energy. Thank you Diane !

Kimono part2

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Another beautiful lady came to English lesson in kimono. She looks great . According to her, this kimono was made by a person who usually makes cloth worn by sumo wrestlers. Cherry blossoms are depicted on this kimono.You may think it’s too early but for kimono wearing something forthcoming is good as good as something already in season.

My husband asked me ” Why do you have so many beautiful people around you ? I replied, ” Well, it’s not my fault, but birds of a feather flock together, you know.”