Sunday, June 2, 2013

Carpe Diem #212, Shincha (New Tea)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I have been invited to a Cha no Yu or Saijiki (a tea ceremony) by Rikyu, a famous tea master. My heart is pounding wild, my mind is in awe. At last I am going to experience a Saijiki, a classical tea ceremony.
Full of excitement I walk towards Rikyu's house. His house, a wonderful classical Japanese one with a gorgeous garden around it, is just around the corner.
As I walk into the garden and towards his frontdoor I look around me. Everywere I look I see wonderful flowers, plants and trees in full bloom. I hear the leaves rustle and the crystal clear sound of falling water. I see a little bamboo fountain and I am enjoying the sight of it for a moment. Then I walk on. Rikyu's garden looks really gorgeous and in a way it resonates with the Universe, with the Cosmos, with the deep silence of the garden. I feel like walking IN a haiku.
My silken kimono feels great on my naked skin, the straw sandals caressing my feet. I was so overwhelmed with the garden that I hadn't noticed the heat. The heat of this Summerday. With my fan I try to stay cool, but it seems that it doesn't work, I still feel the heat.
As I step upon the verandah of Rikyu's house I smell the sweet scent of Honeysuckle, Jasmin and Lillies. Mm ... that nice sweet perfume of Mother Nature ...
I knock on the door.

knocking on the door
the host awaits his guest -
a hot Summer day

Smiling and bowing Rikyu invites me into his home. I slip out of my straw sandals and place them beneath the Honeysuckle.
Rikyu's home breaths peace and silence. I hear the relaxing sound of a Shakuhachi (a bamboo-flute) and I see a young woman playing it in the orangery. She nods at me and invites me to come an sit with her. She handing me a Koto (a 13-string cither). She smiles at me and nods as if she says "come on play the Koto". As in a trance I start playing the Koto. Heavenly sounds of Koto and Shakuhachi are melting together to a symphony of deep devotional and silent music. A perfect harmony ... I didn't know that I could play the Koto, but ... I am playing it. The music fills the orangery and it feels like a warm cloak covering me up.
Through the open window I see the changing color of the sun and I realize that the evening is closing in on us. After the music has faded away ... deep silence. Only the breeze and the fragile song of cicadas.

deep silence
the colorful sky at sunset -
cicadas singing

Rikyu takes me by the hand and leads me into the garden. Along a path of stepping stones, on both sides of the path are on a regular distance firepits giving a little bit of warmth to reduce the coolness of this Summerevening, we reach Rikyu's Chashitsu (tea house) in the backyard of his wonderful garden. The Chashitsu is build of bamboo and the entrance is low. To go inside I have to bend my head and bow my knees. This is deep respect, this is equality ... here is everyone without exception the same.

Credits: japanese tea house

on my knees
as every one has to do
no differences

On the wall, hidden in the Tokonama (a kind of alcove), I see a calligraphed Zen Buddhistic Wisdom line:

'Emptiness isn't really empty, the Spirit of the Emptiness is always present'.

And then Rikyu starts with the preparartions for my first tea-ceremony ever. All his movements are aesthetic and in complete harmony like a wave in the ocean. Finally this is were I was longing for ... a classical Cha no Yu, a tea ceremony and what a joy and a honor to be the guest of the best and most known tea master Rikyu and to see him perform the tea ceremony.

It was awesome that tea ceremony and what a sad idea that it was only a dream (smiles). Rikyu (1522-1591) was one of the best and most known tea masters of his time. He has also composed haiku, but I couldn't find a haiku written by him ... so we will (maybe) never know how he was writing his haiku.

This was the introduction to our new episode of Carpe Diem. Today we share haiku on Shincha (new tea). Shincha is new, or young, tea and mostly harvested in early Summer. Those light green leaves are used to make, as we call it here in The Netherlands, white tea. A very light tea which has a sweet soft taste.

pouring me a cup
she smiles at me and makes me blush
sweet new tea

On hot Summerdays ice tea is my favorite drink and of course I make that myself, not as a tea-master, but it feels like I am the tea-master.

Well ... I hope you all enjoyed this episode and I hope to see wonderful haiku inspired on Shincha. Have fun! This prompt will stay on 'till May 4th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our first Carpe Diem Special, a haiku written by our haiku poetess of this month, Kikusha-Ni (Tagama Kikusha Zennshu (1753-1826), later on today around 10.00 PM (CET). To give you all an idea for this first Special I will give that haiku here already.

tenmoku ni koharu no kumo no ugoki kana

in the teabowl

this motion of the clouds
of 'little spring'


  1. What a lovely story -- I really envy you to be able to take part in a real tea-service.. A wonderful text with the haiku as perfect gems inside... so I guess it's a haibun...

  2. Taking the walk thru the garden, taking tea - thanx for taking me with you thru this dream walk.....

  3. Fantastic! A lovely introduction to today's challenge and I wish I could be in that garden with you.

  4. i too was entranced by your dream! wonderful. :)

  5. Lovely swept us away to the calm land of haiku

    I was reminded of a day in a Japanese garden as a child when we were invited to tea - your description re-painted a magical moment for me

  6. Delightful...and fun to read...happy sweet tea drinking ...
    thanks for sharing, Kris.. ☺