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Gion Matsuri - Kikusui Boko Chaseki
 
Back in Kyoto, I started back to work in tea about a week after I arrived.  I arrived in Kyoto on July 5th with no place to live and no plans, and on the 14th I was helping out at the Kikusui Boko Chaseki with Matsumoto-sensei’s group.  Kyoto in July is brutal.  I arrived to help out at the chaseki in a packed room on a hot july day wearing the requisite yukata and immediately headed to the back to get into the flow of handing out tea.  It was chaotic.  There were lots of “ohisashiburi!”s in the midst of rushing back and forth passing out tea to guests.  Suddenly, and unexpectedly, I was asked to do temae.  It wasn’t planned, but since they asked I did it.  While I was doing temae all I could hear were the “click click click” sounds of a camera shutter, only to find out afterwards there was a photographer from Kyoto Shinbun.  No pictures ended up in the newspaper though...which is probably a good thing since I was probably totally red from the heat! 
 
That night I remember walking most of the way home (I didn’t want to take a bus or subway because it was so crowded) and remembering how hot Kyoto was even at night.  I do love that feeling after a big tea event though.  Totally exhausted, but satisfied. 
 
International Chakai
 
In October I took part in the International Chakai for the second time, and remembered what it was like to be a hanto again (it was in English though, no problem).  The first time I took part in the International Chakai I was a Midorikai student and my role that day was leading guests from the machiai into the tea room.  I remember very clearly that I was happy to be in the Ryurei seki because the mizuya on that side was so much larger and the windows could be opened to let air in.  This year I was not so lucky, being on the Shinka side where the mizuya was small and narrow with so many people inside.  It was great fun that day though, two other former Midorikai graduates were there, as well as Lani, who was my kohai in Midorikai but is now a Gakuen student.  In Shinka I was hanto twice and did temae once.  When it comes to being hanto, sometimes it is easier in Japanese, and sometimes easier in English.  Conversationally English is much easier for me (obviously), but sometimes when it comes to giving explanations about dogu I get tripped up in trying to translate everything. 
 
Shokubutsuen Daichanoyu
 
In the beginning of November I was able to work with Midorikai and ICI students once again for the Daichanoyu at the Shokubutsuen.  Unfortunately, even though it was a national holiday, I still had class that day so I could only participate in the morning.  I was first up for hanto duty (Japanese this time) and got very nervous about it!  At the very last minute Hamana-sensei said “should we do it together?” and I was so relieved I almost cried.  Haha!  Ok, that is a little dramatic, but I was extremely relieved.  In the beginning I kind of froze, but Hamana-sensei, being amazing, was very good about turning the event into a casual exchange and started asking questions about Midorikai life, ICI, etc.  I wish I could have stayed longer that day, but as it was I just had time to run back home and change before running off to class.  Such is my strange double-life. 
 
Sotan-ki
 
On November 19th I was lucky enough to attend Sotan-ki for the second time.  The first time I attended as a Midorikai student, but this time I was able to join Glenn-sensei and the Boston group who had come to visit Kyoto for a week.  I was so happy to see Glenn-sensei and the Boston group and be able to share this day with them.  It was so fun!  The Boston group was together with Christy-sensei’s group from San Francisco, and along with Markku we had a fun International bunch.  First, in Totsutotsusai the Sensei’s were able to enter the koicha seki and drink Iemoto-sama’s koicha.  The tea in this seki was from Ippoudou, maybe Unmon no Mukashi?  Afterward we were taken to the Honseki where Makiko-sama did temae.  The scroll in this seki was “Zui-in” signed by Seichu (Gengensai).  In the honseki we got to eat the ginan mochi, which was soft and delicious! 
 
At the seki in Gakuen I saw Nozomi and afterwards was able to talk to her for a minute.  I am always happy to see friends in the tea room!  The gakuensei were working so hard, they looked wonderful as always.  I felt very bad for the boys though, who were mostly on outside duty, arranging geta and passing out umbrellas and the like.  It was pouring rain all day and even in the morning you could see the bottom of their hakama and their tabi were soaked.  :( 
 
The last seki was in Chaken, by the Tankokai groups.  The scroll in this seki described the colors of the leaves on the faraway mountain looking like flowers.  It was in this seki that I saw Matsuyama-sensei, Matsomoto-sensei’s older sister, and she was actually the one to serve me tea!  I also ran into Lani at this time and got to sit next to her during this seki, since she was there with the Ichi-nen-course class.  All day I kept thinking about people, people I have met through tea, people I didn’t know, who they are, why we are all dedicated to this life.  We come from all over the world and gathered in that one place on that one day and all had the same purpose.  Fascinating.
 
 
 
 
 
 
obviously I missed something somewhere. Didn't realise you were back in Japan. Doing what? How long will you be there? :)
I came back to Japan in July :) Over the summer I was doing research to finish my MA from Michigan, since September I have been an MBA student at Doshisha. I will be here for the next two years :)