In the morning, the class visited the Nakajima Seikodo mounting studio and we learned about how scrolls are mounted and repaired. We were split into two groups for the demonstrations (Japanese speakers and English speakers) and somehow I ended up with the Japanese speakers. Figures. There are so many brushes and glue types, and we each got to try adding a backing on a sheet. You wouldn’t think these things are so difficult, but then you try it and it is very tricky. It was interesting, but I had problems standing up again...as usual.
Temae: daime shozumi, usucha and koicha. I had forgotten that when our sempai did this they used the special tana for practicing daime so we weren’t sure how to prepare for class. Daime was fun, I like small spaces, I did usucha this day.
Tatami cleaning in the evening. June 9th:
Omi Jingu kencha and Sagawa museum. The weather was beautiful on the day of the Kencha, and once again we were able to see Daisosho doing temae. As with Kenninji he did the temae in the ryurei style, which was interesting. After the offering we went to the honseki, followed by a really delicious bento lunch, and then the second seki which was ryurei style and we were all seated. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear much about the dogu in either of the seki because of the number of people. I always have this problem in large tea gatherings. Too much to see, too many people, not enough time to actually look at anything.
After the kencha we went to the Sagawa museum, and I was so happy to finally be able to go. Unfortunately, my anxiety was getting the better of me, and the combination of large crowds and everyone constantly taking pictures had made me a bit stressed. WE had a tour of the tea room designed by Raku Kichizaemon, and it is a truly inspiring place. When we entered the museum part I had to sit and have a moment to myself to hide from everyone’s cameras and random chatter. Unfortunately, I discovered later that Hamana-sensei was standing behind me the entire time taking pictures of me. Later, when I recieved his pictures from this event, there are about ten pictures of me from behind where I was trying to remember how to breathe. Honestly. Can’t they just put the cameras away once in a while?!
All in all it was a really nice day, and we were really tired by the time we came home, but the kohai had a kagetsu practice with Anna...poor kids. They were barely standing when they got back and then to try to learn kagetsu on top of it. I don’t think I could handle it! After dinner I went to school to help the kids who were cleaning tatami and I we ended up sitting on the tatami not moving for a long time. Goto-sensei (chief this week) came up and started laughing at us when he saw all of us lying there. I asked him how to proceed with preparations for the next day, since we had chabako in Chaken in the morning. Unfortunately, since we were gone all day I didn’t have a chance to ask him earlier and it was really too late to ask to borrow dogu from Gakuen. I didn’t want to cause any problems for him so I just said that we would use our own dogu from the dorm. June 10th:
Jitsugi in the morning in Chaken, tsuki chabako. I like tsuki, much better than hana. For some reason it seems more logical to me. It was a nice class, although it was tricky to prep everything when we were all using our own dogu! Thankfully there are a lot of chabako fans in Midorikai.
In the afternoon we changed and went to Oimatsu for a sweets class! Wheee! Today we made three different types of higashi, and it was my first time seeing higashi being made. I really enjoyed using the molds, personally. Also, I was in a group with Mereca and Wendy who both like really bright colors so we ended up with some interesting higashi.
Haigata in the evening, and I spoke with Goto-sensei about preparations for chatsubo kazari the following day, as Hamana-sensei wanted to practice tying the knots in the morning. June 11th:
So...today was probably the worst day I have had all year. One of the most panic inducing days of my life actually. I went to class in the morning, and realized that the chatsubo hadn’t been put out in the kitchen, only the strings. I knew that Hamana-sensei would be upset, but class had already started by this point and the chatsubo were kept in storage in a closet in rokunoma, so we couldn’t do anything. As predicted, Hamana-sensei was angry when he came in, and class did not start out on a good note. It doesn’t help that I have a very difficult time learning how to tie knots. Really. Sometimes I wonder if I have a learning disorder, this is how bad I am at picking up things. Anyways, sensei starts teaching us, I almost immediately have difficultly keeping up, which makes Hamana-sensei even more angry, and within 5 minutes he says “if you don’t want to be here you should just go home.” There isn’t much I can do at that point, but I tried to say that I was just having trouble understanding, which received a “i’m already explaining this very slowly, and no one else is having trouble” response. So I excused myself for slowing the class down and left.
I spent the rest of the day in my room crying. All day. Without stop.
I was supposed to have Mari and Nozomi over that evening, but obviously wasn’t in the mood to be social at that point and texted them to let them know what happened. However, in the evening I realized I needed someone to talk to, and I really didn’t want to interact with anyone in Midorikai that day. I texted Mari to ask if I could talk to her and her and Nozomi ended up coming over and listening to me be sad. They are such nice people, I am really happy I have gotten to know them this year. They agreed that it would be good to spend some time away from Midorikai for a bit, and suggested that I go to the Hotaru Chakai with some of the Gakuensei.
I suspect that one of them talked to Yuichi, because he called that night and asked if I wanted to go with him and some of the Ichinen course girls to the chakai the next day. Although it was a terrible day, I was really happy to receive so much support from my friends. June 12th:
Morning: Made a cup of tea, gave higashi to Mari and Noh as a thank you for the night before, went to the bakery for coffee and breakfast, picked up my new hitoe kimono, picked up an obi from the dry cleaners, went to Zuiun to look at dogu, bought chabako dogu so that I could practice tsuki chabako more.
Afternoon: Firefly chakai with Yuichi, Kei, Wendy and Ichinen course girls. We had a lot of fun! Midorikai people were the only ones in kimono, but that was ok :) There were too many people there to actually see many fireflies, so afterwards we wandered around looking for fireflies at the same place Wendy and I had gone to before. I spend a lot of time talking to Shiori while Yuichi was “teaching Wendy Japanese.” There were so many fireflies at the river! Wendy and I kept running up and down the road and actually crawled over the fence to get a better view (for which we were scolded by the old ladies). Afterwards we got drinks at Alcove, then back to the dorm for curfiew. Wendy and Mai-chan came over and we ended up talking in my room until 2 AM.June 13th:
Shijo/Nishiki in the morning, cooking practice (which went much better than the first time), dinner with Wada-san at the brown rice restaurant, and then Mecca and I put the dogu together for shoza keiko.
Sunday night I also got to talk to Glenn-sensei and apologize for causing so much trouble and talk to him a bit, which was good. June 14th:
Quiz in the morning in the library, and I knew I had to apologize to Hamana-sensei but I was honestly afraid. After I finished my quiz I sat quietly, avoiding eye contact with anyone. Hamana-sensei came up and asked if he could speak to me outside and I almost fell over, but we ended up having a nice talk and I was able to apologize for not having prepared for class properly. I felt better after that. I have so much respect for Hamana-sensei, I really do not want to leave this year with any bad feelings. I am sad that I still haven’t learned chatsubo kazari though.
Also from this day we have a new person in our class! Emelia, a research student from Finland, came to join us to...well...study our lives I suppose. She is fun to be around, and Mecca enjoys having another Fin here. It’s been nice to have her around.
After the quiz we watched the video on the kaiseki portion of the chaji, which was useful since we had shoza keiko in Chaken in the afternoon. Shoza keiko went smoothly, and we all enjoyed watching the kohai learning how to take the kaiseki meal.
More tatami cleaning in the evening, followed by World Cup watching in Jin-chan’s room (Netherlands v. Denmark and Japan v. Cameroon). June 15th:
Gary-sensei lecture on Rikyu-konomi mono in the morning. Toban: hana, Lani helped me by doing rokunoma. Daime temae again, and I did koicha this time. The kohai had been having issues with the use of tea, and I was really irritated by their not using the older tea despite telling them to do so many, many times. I am a pretty harsh critic in the mizuya. Tensions are running high in my mind because starting from next week the 1A class are taking over as cho and will need to be thinking of these things themselves.
Ivory Coast v. Portugal.June 16th:
Murata-sensei and Imagawa-sensei lectures. I realized too late that I should have been translating more since Emelia was there, but ah well. Welcome to Midorikai?
Toban: cho. 3rd floor. Temae: Gyakudatte, and Murata-sensei gave me a bad time about being bad at this temae. Thanks Murata-sensei :P During the check Kazuo (chief this week) talked for a long time about things neither Stella or I understood. After the check I went to take the cho bag and found Mai-chan being upset while waiting for her interview, and had to do some DC. Ended up staying around and doing and interview myself before dinner.
Got home, quick shower, and then Wendy, Mai-chan and I went to Yuichi’s room to finally see who would win the bed. Background: Wendy and Mecca want me to go to purikura, I won’t, Wendy keeps challenging me to card games and losing. Somehow this ended up with me Yuichi and Wendy making a bet to a card game. If I lose, I had to wear Sailor fuku, if Yuichi lost, he had to shave his head like Kei-chan, and if Wendy lost she had to cook terrible food and spoonfeed it to all of the boys that like her and watch their reactions. Yuichi had been talking big and making a lot of comments about how I was going to lost, but it wasn’t going to happen. He even filled his room with banana’s to try to throw me off my game. (and made delicious banana smoothies!)
Naturally, I won the bet. :) Never bet against me at cards. Yuichi had already bought clippers, and Wendy ended up cutting Yu-chan’s hair. Good night :)June 17th:
Daitokuji visit with Swanson-sensei in the morning, and I got to see Daisen-in again! We were in kimono and it was super hot. I got a kimono burn on the back of my neck, its kind of embarrassing. On the way home I stole Wendy’s parasol. We cooled off in Stella’s room for a bit before lunch, and then had fun showing off Yuichi’s hair to everyone :) He wouldn’t tell people it was because he lost a bet though, so that was kind of sad.
Nagaita temae today, and I took a step back from doing a lot of mizuya preparation so that the kohai can get adjusted. We spend some time lying on the 3rd floor trying not to die of heat before class. Kazuo was around and at one point told me I should be a maiko. What a strange boy.
In the evening I had haigata, and Kazuo was hanging around and Wendy ended up locking me in the mizuya with him. He looked at me and said “dangerous!” and I rolled me eyes, walked out, and smacked Wendy on the arm. Damnit! After haigata I went back to the dorm to help Sylvain and Anna do their first test of the sweets for their chaji using kuzu. Kuzu is still fun and tricky to play with.
Argentina v. Korea (sorry Jin-chan!). I started practicing temae at about 11:30. June 18th:
Gary-sensei and Tanihata-sensei lectures. Jin-chan woke up late from staying up too late to watch soccer. Jitsuji: tsuki chabako with haiken. Mecca had a beautiful temae today and it was really inspiring to watch her. I think back and see how far she has come and I am really proud of her. After school I was exhausted and Wendy dragged me to dinner. Kazuo sat with us, and then ran, but Goto-san, Ihara-san and Yamada-san ate with us and Ihara-san spent most of his time teaching Wendy bad slang Japanese. Very entertaining. That night Mecca, Wendy and I watched Saw, and then we headed to Jin-chan’s room to watch US/Slovenia....BUT IT WASN’T ON TV!!! We + Stella stayed up till about 2 AM chatting and periodically checking the scores of the game. June 19th:
Sahori was in Kyoto! I got to spent the day with her and we wandered all over the city and I got to show her the many places in my life here. At this point, we have met in Boston, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto...I wonder where is next? She has seen many different aspects of my life and I find it very easy to talk to her. It was nice to have a day outside of Midorikai.
I was so exhausted by the time I got home I couldn’t move, and wasn’t feeling very well. June 20th:
I couldn’t sleep at night or wake up in the morning, and ended up getting out of a non-sleep at about 11 AM. I ended up missing the kaiseki practice as a result, and sitting in my room all day. Sometimes I forget the limitations of my body. Also, I seem to have lost more weight recently and that combined with the lack of sleep has left me pretty weak in general. June 21st:
Toinseki visit in the morning, and Talon, Mecca and I spent a lot of time talking about our strategy for cooking and set up.
Afternoon: toban: cha. Temae: nagashidate and irekodate. Everyone did nagashidate first and then we did irekodate with the time that was left over. I ended up staying for the check, and Ihara-san was chief this week. June 22nd:
Mittwer-sensei lecture in the morning, followed by Hamana-sensei lecture on July. I hope we have time to have August lectures before we leave! Afternoon, waributa mizusashi and araijakin. I do like the water related temae in the summer. I stayed for the check again, and Ihara-san seems a lot more talkative lately. He was asking about the atsukae for one of the mizusahi. I find it difficult to talk to him since he is kind of an awkward person. It is nice that he is talking more and asking questions to help everyone learn though.
In the evening we put together all of the dogu in dogubeya to take over to Toinseki, there is so much stuff! June 23rd:
Chaji preparation at Toinseki. First there was a meeting in the morning, and then Talon, Mecca and I went to Nishiki to buy ingredients for the kaiseki meal. After we returned home we finished packing everything, loaded the car and headed over. It didn’t take too long for us to set everything up. The three of us tend to be pretty organized people as far as that goes.
I had planned to watch the US Algeria game in the evening, but it wasn’t on! They plated England Slovenia instead. FIGURES. Why won’t they let me watch the US play???June 24th:
Toinseki. The day. Woke up, coffee, samuei, and we are off. Mecca and I took a cab with Emelia and Hamananana at 7:00 AM. During the day the tension in the kitchen was kind of rough. I had a fit in the morning when Murachi wouldn’t trust me on the dashi and took over. Don’t mess with my damn dashi! It turned out fine in the end though. I got over it, Mecca worked like a champ, Talon did his fish thing, and we served lovely food. Unfortunately, Lani wasn’t able to come to the chaji because she was still sick, so we were down to six guests. Also, at one point after the yakimono was served I saw an unconscious Mai-chan being carried through the tea room. Apparently her obi had been tied too tight and she couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying for a minute. She sat out the rest of the kaiseki portion and then returned for shozumi. I am impressed by her fortitude. It was the most eventful chaji I have been to!
At the end of the day we got to enjoy some tea and sweets and I was surprised to see that Sylvain used the exact same flower that I have used at my chaji in May (a lavender colored tessen). It’s a beautiful flower.
After we cleaned and dropped things off in the dorm we had time for a quick shower before going out again for DRINKING TIME! It was the first time for the kohai to drink with sensei, and we had a good time of it. As usual, I sat next to Murachi, who continued his habit of saying obscene things, and for a while I tried to keep up with him drinking. It’s impossible. I think I was at least three behind by the end of the night...but I did consume a large amount of gin that evening. I’m sure there will be pictures on facebook, since my kohai are all camera happy, and I will let the pictures speak for themselves. June 25th:
Not as hungover as I expected, which was good. The amount of gin I can consume in an evening is impressive to me, although I can’t catch up to Murachi. In the morning we got to see the exhibition on Ennosai (13th, early Meiji) at the Center, and as usual I had a hard time standing up for a long time. The exhibition was really interesting though, I hope I get a chance to go back and look around some more on my own time.
Right after class I had to run around and grab the towels since everything had been in the laundry from the chaji. Toban: cho. My very last time being cho. I was thinking about this all week, and how much I will miss it. More than anything this year, I have come to appreciate the amount of work it takes to organize a mizuya, and I love doing it. Ihara-san was chief this week and he inspects the dogu very closely during the check, which always makes me a little nervous. I don’t want to mess up.
Of course on Friday, the day after Toinseki and our party, we have Sumitsuki and Koichatsuki kagetsu. It went pretty well, although I find myself not wanting to drink koicha so much during the heat of the summer. The check went fine, although he did pick at the chasen a bit. He asked about the type of shifuku that was used on the nagao chaire. I immediately replied “sasazuru donsu”. He said “sasuga,” but really I was just lucky that they had a shifuku out with one of my favorite patterns. I appreciate that he has started asking us these questions, and I hope that all of the chiefs will continue to do this. Good training :)
That night we watched soccer in Jin’s room (Brazil Portugal) and then stayed up talking until about 4 AM. How did that happen? I wasn’t even drunk! Interestingly, I feel like the World Cup has brought my closer together with my kohai. Anything that works, right?June 26th:
Since I stayed up until 4 AM, I slept later than I expected and ended up being late to let Talon into the dorm and drop by my kimono teacher’s place to make a drop. It all worked out though, and I went to Mecca and Wendy to Kyoto station (Subway and Lush) and then up to Shijo to look around the washi store for inspiration for the invitations for Mecca’s chaji. I love that place, and wish I could buy everything in it. All I bought was some summer stationary! That’s it! Through the afternoon I was feeling pretty exhausted, and after a brief stop at Starbucks I went home and attempted to rest.
I’m not sure why, but I cannot sleep during the day. The concept of the “afternoon nap” has always eluded me. I try, and then think about things I should be doing, and end up cleaning or organizing something. It’s a problem. In the evening I recreated the miso shiru from the kaiseki, made some rice and got the extra konomono and was planning to give some to Lani since she wasn’t able to come, but she and some of the girls had to go out. In the end Wendy, Mecca and I ended up eating it all while watching Daria and the Simpsons...Wendy made us tea and Mecca brought Finnish chocolate...so it was a good night. June 27th:
Couldn’t sleep last night, and finally took a pill at 3 and woke up at 10. I feel exhausted, and more and more I start looking forward to going home, not because I want to leave this place, but because I am so tired and I need to rest. While I am here I feel like I need to keep working, and keep going out to do things because my time is so short. Sometimes I forget that I have limits, especially when it comes to my physical well-being.
I spend the afternoon resting, doing laundry, and continuing to pack boxes which I will hopefully ship this week. Hopefully this week I will also get my plane tickets and finalize my plans to return to the States. At this point I still don’t know where I am returning to, which doesn’t motivate me too much.
Wendy was kind enough to make me okayu and chawanmushi for lunch, and then Stella made fried rice and dinner for all of the girls, so I didn’t even have to feed myself today! Nice :) In the evening I led kagetsu practice with the kohai, since it is their first time doing it tomorrow. Based on my reaction to my first experience with kagetsu, I thought I would be the last person to teach it to my kohai. I have come to enjoy it, but I still never would have taught it except that all of the girls asked me to practice with them. Teaching is a powerful learning tool...almost powerful enough to make me want to teach. Almost.
Since I came back I have been going through pictures and reflecting back on everything that has happened this year. It is astounding to me how many places I have been, things I have seen, friends I have made, skills I have acquired during this year. I am so thankful to have this experience, even if I can’t sleep at night :PJune 28th:
Vice-principal meeting in the morning, our last meeting with Okusama! (I will be saying “my last” statements a lot from this point on) We spent a lot of time talking about the World Cup, so that was fun. Afterwards we had a lecture with Gary-sensei on Senke Jushoku, and I spent some time asking him about water sources in the city. I always wonder about different wells.
Afternoon, habuta and meisuidate. I have done habuta (leaf lid on a hoso mizusashi) before, so I opted for meisuidate. The kohai did their kagetsu and performed very well, so I was pleased. Good kohai! Haigata in the evening, done in the binkake and tricky because I didn’t have any of the small haisaji with me. Ah well. Still can’t sleep.June 29th:
Ishikawa-sensei lecture on haigata in the morning, he is really fun teacher. Haigata is something I want to become good at, and I feel like I will never have enough practice for that. *sigh* Sometimes I wish I had more time here, and sometimes I can’t wait for everything to end. I am feeling very bipolar about leaving here. After Ishikawa-sensei’s lecture, we had a lecture by Hamana-sensei on Taian, since we would visit the next day.
Toban: hi. Before class we were deciding the order and the nishi bag hadn’t been brought upstairs and we realized that Anna was nishi and downstairs sifting tea. I went downstairs to get the bag so that we could put out the books and this led to a hysterical crying fit that lasted through the entire prep time. This would be one of those times when I can’t wait for everything to end. Temae was shikishidate. I like chabako in general, but this one is a little fussy. :( June 30th:
In the morning we took a trip to the outskirts of Kyoto to visit Taian, the National Treasure tearoom and only extant tearoom attributed to Rikyu. We were not allowed in the room, but we could only view it from the outside. It was still very interesting though, and having had Hamana-sensei’s lecture on the details of the history and structure of the place it made it that much more meaningful.
We had some time when we got back so Emelia, Wendy and I had some tea before lunch.
Temae in the afternoon: SHAZA. Mecca wasn’t feeling well so we were only four people, which meant we were able to do additional roles. We did three rounds and I did every just except hana (Talon did all of the hana since he will be doing it during the summer seminar in Hawaii). I always get worried about Shaza, but it never ends up being as bad as I think it is going to be.
I was supposed to clean tatami in the evening, but I took over Mecca’s haigata instead and Talon cleaned the tatami. It was a pretty bad haigata, but I like every bit of extra practice I can get.