Joyagama: the last kettle of the year

We intended to share one last bowl of tea today. But before the year ends we like to make sure the tea spaces are well cleaned, and to that end, today there was a lot of cleaning. Many of our members came and went during the big day of cleaning (osoji), such was the group turnover and length of the cleaning that we nearly abandoned the idea of having tea. Perhaps it was the draw of the clean room or the charm of tea by candlelight that we found irresistible, but either way, we couldn’t help ourselves.

We had soba noodles as the idea of eating toshikoshi soba seems to have become our tradition at this event.

The first guest shows appreciation for the tea.

The host prepares the tea caddy (natsume) and tea scoop (chashaku) along with a candle so that the guests can have a closer look at them.

You can’t see much without the candle but everything takes on a magical quality with it and the entire evening turned out to be a unforgettable way to wind up our tea activities for the year.

After a short break we will begin looking forward to the first kettle of 2012.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year so wonderful.    See you all in the year of the dragon.

Robiraki: Opening of the Winter Hearth

Every year as the weather turns colder in November we put the brazier away and open the sunken hearth in the tearoom.

This time of year is celebrated as New Year for people involved with chado for it is now that the present year’s new tea is first opened and shared.

The guests gather and eat zenzai, a traditional sweet made of azuki beans and mochi…and a lot of sugar.

The tearoom is prepared for the first charcoal fire to be lit in the hearth.

Guests gather around and watch as the fire is built.

Once the fire was built everyone had the chance to drink both thick and thin tea. There were several great groups of guests throughout the day making this another joyous occasion for sharing time and tea.

As the last guests left, those of us who had been serving during the day got a chance to join our friends and enjoy some tea as well. Always a treat.



Celebration of Leaves at the Botanical Garden

Once again we teamed up with Ścieżka (, this time for an outdoor festival dedicated to the beautiful leaves at the Warsaw Botanical Garden.

Although the garden is closed to the public starting in November, we got to get inside and celebrate what must be the best season to view them.

Paintings were hung around the garden and the guests were left to wander and wonder at the beauty of nature as well as the fantastic art.

It was a great joy to be outside in such a splendid environment.

Some guests stopped at our table to watch or to partake some tea.


This style of procedure , called chabako, is especially nice in an outdoor setting.


After some question and answer guests continued walking the gardens…

made prints of leaves they found…


ran into friends…

and were invited to join us for sweets and tea.

Before the tea everyone was offered a bowl of warm zenzai (a traditional Japanese sweet, like a sweet soup of beans and mochi) it’s hard to describe, but tasty, really.

We all stayed busy preparing the sweets and tea, to try and forget how cold it was.

We had a great team and managed to supply the demand for warm food and drink.

By the end of the day everyone had their chance to have some tea.

Although chilly, you couldn’t have asked for better weather or better people to spend the day with. Thanks to everyone for coming out and an extra big thank you to all who helped serving our guests and yet again to Ścieżka for working with us once more.

”Japan Days” at Warsaw University

Near the beginning of every school year the Japanese Studies Department at Warsaw University hosts a two day event full of presentations called Japan Days. Several of our members gave presentations and we also held a tea presentation once again with Ścieżka for the opening of the event.  At the same time we hosted tea gatherings in Kaian (the Japanese tea room in the Warsaw University library) both days for all comers as well as for the guest lecturers visiting for the event, Zivka Serper and Hirano Keiichiro.

Ścieżka art included ikebana, ceramics, paintings and caligraphy.


Our utensils, besides the table and kettle, were Polish and American.






We dressed in Western clothes for the presentation at the misonodana (pictured black lacquered table)


Guests trying the sweets and tea



Making tea for some membes of Ścieżka


In Kaian with theater specialist Zivka Serper


Students enjoyed the chance to drink tea in an authentic Japanese tearoom and setting



Ścieżka Exhibit with Tea

On September 10th the members of Sunshinkai (the Warsaw Urasenke Association) were invited to participate in a joint event with Studio Plastyczne Ścieżka at the Studio Teatralne S/T.


Ścieżka asked us to combine a contemplative tea environment with their art show in order to put the guests in a calm state of mind while viewing the pieces.

To do this we had the guests all enter the gallery/theater as if they were coming into a tearoom. First they put on white socks, used a tsukubai, and finally entered through a nijiriguchi (small crawl-through doorway) into the dimly lit room.

Practice the day before Building the nijiriguchi

Without any additional explaination we started a tea presentation in which three Sunshinkai members arranged flowers, built a charcoal fire and made and drank thick tea on a tatami stage.

First the flowers were arranged

Next the charcoal

Making the tea

Afterwards the lights came up and the guests were invited to view the art.

About an hour later the guests were asked to sit in two lines where they were served tea in temple style before quietly leaving.

The feedback all seemed good, both the guests and the members of Ścieżka thought the atmosphere and environment lent themselves to a peaceful and contemplative experience.

We always enjoy working with Ścieżka, thanks to you all, the next event lined up sounds equally interesting.


Colorado Chaji

Mike gave us the chance to hold a complete chaji at his place for him and a few of his students during our stay. We took the opportunity to share some of the tea life we encountered over the past year.

The waiting room, our somewhat subtle way of bringing the (tea) revolution into the theme. (the scroll is called “Giza Pyramid”)

Sorry, for although we had a full kaiseki there are no pictures to share, we were a little too busy. Ula and Aaron shared the host tasks, Ula prepared the Sumi and thin tea and Aaron served the kaiseki and thick tea. Mike was the first guest with Lindsey and Tom as second and third.

Ula prepares the charcoal

Ula lays the charcoal

We were fortunate to have Mike make the beautiful and tasty main sweets himself while we cooked the food, we named it “Colorado Nishiki” or Colorado brocade

The unity is completed as we use our favorite vase from Jordan along with American, Polish and Japanese items.

sharing the sweets before thin tea

guests enjoying thin tea

wonderful dimly lit room

The last bowl of tea before the guests quietly leave

We took the Polish kaigu (set of blue ceramic utensils for the daisu) for Mike and brought back many great memories and experiences (as well as a beautiful futaoki Mike made) that will stay with us always. Another great day of tea and togetherness.