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It's already furo season again.  Somehow sakura season has already come and gone and we are back to May...which means pretty soon I will be enjoying ajisai kinton again.  Excellent.  

I have been meaning to write for months, and between school and lessons and life I keep missing my chances.  This year has been more challenging than I expected, mostly because I feel as though I am at a crossroads where I need to decide what I am going to do with my life.  For years I have balanced different hobbies, interests, careers, etc.  Sometimes when I look back on the last six years I get dizzy thinking about the number of times I moved back and forth and the number of roles I took on.  Through all of this, tea has been a constant, but the role of tea in my life has also shifted and being back in Kyoto it is hard to determine what that role is.  It is a question I continue to explore.  In the meantime, I plan to enjoy life, enjoy tea, and finish this damn grad school business once and for all.  

Yesterday was a milestone for me for a couple of reasons.  First, it was the first time I organized and executed a demonstration on my own.  Second, it represented a merging of my school-life and tea-life.  The Doshisha Business School, like every other business school, has relationships with a number of interested business men and women, particularly those in the immediate area.  One of the benefactors of DBS is Tateishi Nobuo, the former Chairman of the Omron Corporation.  He has also set up a scholarship fund for 1-2 students annually, and yesterday was the presentation ceremony for those scholarship recipients.  Being one of those students, I was asked by the DBS office if I would make tea for Mr. Tateishi, Dr. Oya (Chancellor of Doshisha) and the other guests who would attend.  

So I went to work.  The ceremony was held in a conference room, and DBS did not have any supplies on hand so we had to make due with what we had.  I was very grateful for the experience I had helping at events in Boston and Michigan.  It was ironic that I was only a few blocks from Konnichian, and yet I felt as though I was back in the States.  I only had a couple of days notice before the event, so there wasn't a lot of time to plan, nor did the guests have time for a long temae.  Because of the set-up of the room I did a ryurei style on a table top, and the dogu was a combination of my own and items lent to me by Matsumoto-sensei.  The greatest difficultly was in not having anyone else there who knew tea when serving.  I went very early to set-up and prepare, and that all went fine.  One lady from the office, and one of my classmates came to help serve the sweets and take the tea to the guests.  I am extremely grateful for their help and they both did an excellent job.  However, there were 8 guests and I was the only person who could whisk tea.  Also, I was not confident that my furo (actually a Russian samovar) could hold water for 8 guests.  Given the time constraints of the guests I had the hanto's bring the bowls with hot water and tea from the mizuya and whisked at temaeza.  

All in all it was an interesting first experience.  I enjoyed being able make tea for the gentleman who has allowed me to study at Doshisha, and I hope that he enjoyed the tea.  It was nice to have a chance to show this part of my life to my professors and to the office, because I often feel that I am leading a double-life here where each side doesn't understand what the other half does.  Let's see where this leads.  
It's so wonderful to read that you are back in Kyoto and doing tea again! Stumbling upon your blog a little over a year ago was what got me initially hooked on the idea of studying at Midorikai - I literally did not leave my computer for an entire night, reading through all of your entries in one sitting. Experiencing your stories was a major inspiration for pushing me to apply for the program. I was just accepted as a student in the upcoming September session - so thank you! Your well-written musings will continue to inspire other students down the path of tea, I am sure. I hope I will get to meet you at some point in the future when I am in Kyoto! Stefan from the NYC Urasenke branch says hello, by the way - he advised me to try and get in touch with you in Japan at all possible, and said you were a fabulous sempai. If you ever want to chat, my email is zoisite_vindaloo at hotmail dot com. Take care, and please keep writing more about the Adventures of Cone! :)

Sarah Stewart