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.
First what I feel is important to indicate is that the term ‘tea ceremony’ is a mistranslation. The word ‘ceremony’ only partially captures what the practice really is and calls for misunderstandings about the concept. It is a ritual but one that is not only used for ceremonial purposes. It essentially is a rite of hospitality, and that is why we prefer to refer to it as ‘the rite of tea’.
This article offers a list of our suggestions for places to visit in Kyoto during cherry blossom viewing season. My personal suggestion is to aim for the end of the season when the cherry petals float through the air and elegantly dance their way to the ground. This is a phenomenon that is often alluded to in classical poetry, and that captures the Japanese preference to savour beauty not at its prime, but in the transitional periods.