Among the many Korai-style Korean ware tea vessels, the Mishima style is one that is still very often preferred in the Enshū school of tea ceremony. We often refer to a utensil as “in the Mishima style”, but frequently forget to appreciate the deeper variations and traits of the style. In this article I have attempted to shed some light on how even in one specific style of earthenware the variation in method and aesthetic value can be as great as the elaborate application of zōgan motifs or senkoku illustrations, and the simplicity of the creamy konahiki surface or a single brushstroke as seen in the hakeme style.
Tea ceremony is a beautiful practice that encapsulates most of Japan's traditional arts. Although the learner in the beginning of his practice focusses mostly on the perfection of the execution of a service of tea, once somewhat accustomed to it the road opens to an exploration of peripheral elements such as choice of implements, flower arrangement and appreciation of calligraphic scrolls.
Beauty claimed for State-mandated death-in-battle: Blossom, blossom, everywhere – yet none who pause to think
Japan’s cherry-blossom, and a second ‘place of evil’: The Yoshiwara-quarter: a ghetto entirely dedicated to non-procreational hetero-eros
Here, we shall encounter Japan’s cherry-blossom as not only unstable in what it has been seen as embodying. Throughout Japanese cultural history, it has simultaneously embodied instability – instability of authority, of sex as ‘necessarily’ procreative, and of gender.
it has been suggested that cherry-blossom, or saku-ra, has long formed a site of conflicting embodiments. Such dualism results from the third-century import from continental Asia of one version of Buddhism, and its State-organized diffusion. But why?
Both in Japan and elsewhere, cherry-blossom is commonly assumed to be the country’s national flower. In fact, and although a cherry-floret figures on every hundred-yen coin, this matter has so far received no legal ruling. And this cannot be unrelated to the fact that, in Japan, cherry-blossom forms a locus of conflicting, or contradictory, significances.
For a true matcha product the tea bushes are tenderly cultivated under well regulated shades and hand-picked for harvest. This allows the manufacturer to select only the freshest tenderest leaves. It goes without saying that in this case the amount of tea that can be produced is limited. It thus doesn’t surprise that a matcha of this quality is near to impossible to obtain in the West.
As human beings we need times to reset, to relax and to take a breath. We can’t continue moving forward at all times. Sometimes we need to pause for a moment to refuel, or we need to stand still to be able to fully take in what is going on in our immediate surroundings. Doing all this ‘on the go’ is immensely exhausting.
In this post I answer several questions about the beginnings of my journey as a tea master. Tea changed my life for the better. Discovering Japanese culture as a young adolescent in Belgium completely changed the course of my life. I could have never imagined the way things turned out for me.