About a year ago we opened Issoan, the tea room built for me by my husband. It took him two and a half years, but it was worth the wait. I have been teaching Chado for about 25 years and I was thrilled to have a tea room with a raised floor for a sunken ro, a real tokonoma, shoji windows, fusuma wall and nijiriguchi. The students and I enjoyed having class there for about six months until the Corona virus hit and we had to close the tea room for events, demonstrations, chakai, workshops and classes. Now the tea room is empty and silent.
In the mornings I go to sit in the tea room. The light in the morning is so beautiful. Even though it is empty and silent, it is still peaceful. I clean the tea room in the morning, hang a scroll and arrange flowers. Sometimes I put on kimono and heat the water. Then I make myself a bowl of tea. Occasionally I will hold my zoom classes in the tea room, but it is not the same as having guests to tea. Who will eat the sweets? Who will drink the tea? Sadly, it is me, by myself to enjoy this stark beauty.
Being alone in the tea room has made me appreciate having guests to make tea for. As I kansha before drinking my tea, I am thankful that is possible to drink tea surrounded by such beauty. Often I find myself “sitting alone in contemplation” about the circumstances we find ourselves in with the Corona virus. There is loss of sharing with other people, but also through technology, we can also share time with people we would not otherwise be able to see.
Until we can meet again safely, Issoan will be closed. In the meantime, I will be here in the silence of one host, no guest.