Saturday, 11 November 2017

Japanese Garden Tea Rooms

Japanese garden tea rooms:

  • Tokyo:                           Shinjuku Gyoen
  • Kanazawa City:           Kenroku-en
  • Matsumoto City:          Ikegami Hyakuchikutei
  • Uji, Kyoto:                    Marukyu Koyamen Tea Company

I am always ready to observe the peace, calm and solitude found in these kinds of tea rooms. I found they were conveniently quiet, almost empty of people.

There is no choice. There is green tea. In another matcha. I'm always happy to take what there is.

Something about Wabi Sabi (with thanks Leonard Koren)

The beauty of wabi-sabi is a turn of mind, not an intrinsic property of things. In other words, the beauty of wabi-sabi "happens," it does not reside in objects and/or environments. 

Tea house "wabi-sabi" in Kenroku-en gardens

Wabi-sabi is interesting to me because it values "honest" natural processes such as ageing, blemishing, deterioration. As such these processes mirror our own mortal journeys through existence. Accepting such environments inclines us towards a more graceful acceptance of mortality.
More cerebral observers suggest that Wabi-sabi is, at root, an aestheticization of poverty—albeit an elegantly rendered poverty.

Wabi-sabi then is a kind of simple beauty available to us all. 

Tea house in Shinjuku- gyoen, Tokyo

With Kazuyo

With woman who served tea

Kanazawa: Kenroku-en tea house

Ikegami Hyakuchikutei: Tea Garden in Matsumoto 

Clean, maintained but worn gardens at Matsumoto

Uji Tea Factory tea rooms

Happy tea drinking!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Matsumoto, Tea, Black Castles and No More Money

Fortune Cookie:


Seven falls, eight getting up.

Matsumoto was quite difficult to get to.

I took two trains to Bessho near Ueda City. After a few days there a minibus called at my inn and took me (door-to-door) to my ryokan in Matsumoto. I found travel arrangements in Japan to be exceptional in their convenience. They were a new high in my experience of these things.

My reception there was as cold and unpalatable as Bessho's was warm and excellent. This was only in a single inn but notable nevertheless. In fact it was one of the worst receptions I can remember although the hotel in Kyoto came very close.

Towards the mountains and Mount Kasumizawa in particular.

When I arrived at the foot of the mountain there was not the bus there I expected to carry me toward the hot spring on the mountain side. I could have got a cab but Japan, after three weeks was starting to bite. Three thousand dollars in the budget but I was starting to dine at convenience stores even there I bought an apple for 200 yen.

This nice woman had a shop full of everything sencha, hojicha, gyokuro, karigane, bancha, even a warming cherry and chilli drink.

A cornucopia of sencha

Whenever anyone discovered I was travelling to Matsumoto they insisted I visited the black castle or Crow castle as the locals call it.

Back at my distinctly frosty ryokan I settled down for a pot of common or garden sencha. As it was loose I didn't know its provenance but I was still just happy that green tea was provided in these rooms complete with caddy, cups and kyushu tea pot.

The taste: savory and saline, with a faint sweet grassy, seaweed undertone. It was a cheap brawny infusion; which is what you might expect. It's unlikely I was going to find ceremonial grade matcha in my room. My experience was affected by the ambiance and the kind of day I had. A flaneur's day in part and Wordsworthian in the other part.

There was a lot of happiness to it.

Black Castle at Matsumoto with cherry blossom

Near Mount Hotaka

A cool mountain breeze blows past the Korean bar on the banks of the Ta river.

Happy Tea Drinking!