Japanese Version

Monday night moments

Nishimura Tokusen Mizusashi
Cold Water Jar by Nishimura Tokusen-san

I'm writing this on the homeward bound bus, on a piece of kaishi, washi paper used for sweets in Tea.  On my way to tea lesson I ran into Kobayashi-sensei on the street, wearing his black robes and a gold colored brimless hat.  He had lived a cloistered life of Zen training for 15 years before coming to Daitokuji in 1978.  His eyes shine like black coals.  His gaze is intense and he speaks in a warm, gruff way.  "Come see me sometime soon," he said in his usual disarming, vulnerable honesty.

Tonight's tea lesson involved an underglaze blue and white porcelain cold water jar on the botton shelf of a black lacquer stand.  When it was my turn to prepare tea, I easily made my full quote of silly mistakes, under the strict, yet always forgiving eyes of my teacher.  It was like being pre-forgiven before I even began.

The wet sweet we shared was shiro-an molded into the shape of a chestnut, with chestnut filling.  Shiro-an is a puree of white beans and sugar, but tastes more like a very light, semi-sweet frosting for adults.  Tonight's dry sweet was an alchemical concoction of sugar, vegetable gelatin and air.  It melted before I could chew it.

It was raining slightly when I walked through the temple complex on my way home.  I could hear the echo of the fire alert monitor clacking wooden sticks together and his sing-song voice calling out for all to be careful with their cooking and heating fires.

At the bus stop, two minutes before I began to compose this blog on kaishi, I played "Japanese stand-off" with an elderly man, where we each smiled and motioned to the other to board the bus first.

Author: stevebeimel

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