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June Seasonal Notes

June 2007

thunderhead rumbles
to warn of summer showers
stones are unconcerned
June is all about water. In Japan, the rainy season begins about the 10th of June and typically lasts for about 30 days.  There are many types of rain, from the masculine heavy, intermittent rain to the onnagata light rain that falls all the time. So you will find many references to rain (tsuyu) in tea utensils at this time.  This is the rain when the ume ripens, and it is the time for rice planting for farmers.  Flowing rivers are a big theme this month as well as cool breezes.

Anything that engenders feelings of coolness can be used in tea this month: white herons, water, rain, fans, green bamboo, unlacquered wood, waterfalls, the seashore, blue or silver. The well bucket mizusashi was used by Rikyu. The unlacquered wood of the bucket is soaked in water and is brought into the tea room slightly wet, to give a feeling of coolness as it evaporates. If you have water from a famous source, there’s a special temae that you can do to showcase that water, meisuidate, using this well bucket. Unglazed ceramics such as Bizen or Shigaraki also impart a feeling of coolness.  Chilled sweets made of kuzu or kanten gelatin such as mizu yokan feel so wonderful sliding down your throat.

Using a smaller kettle or the enclosed kirikake helps keep the heat down in the tea room.  Take special care when doing the ash form in the brazier.  The mountain form with white ash sprinkled over looks like snow.

During the rainy season, if your guests cannot go out during the break at your chaji, they can arrange flowers or have incense ceremony indoors.

References:

An Anthology of the Seasonal Feeling in Chanoyu, by Michael A. Birch

Chado: The Way of Tea, A Japanese Tea Master’s Almanac, translated from the Japanese by Shaun McCabe and Iwasaki Satoko.

Notes from Midorikai lectures, 1996-1997

 

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