The Hunger for Knowledge

One of the things that is a little frustrating to me is that I do not speak Japanese, nor do I read. I have a number of books in my collection about Chanoyu that are written in Japanese and I hunger to read and get the information from them. All that knowledge and I can’t get to it.

But I have not yet learned Japanese and so the frustration I am feeling is of my own making. If it was really important to me to read these books, I’d be learning Japanese and hauling out my dictionary to help me understand what is written in them.

So many times we get frustrated with life, and rail against all the things stopping us from getting what we want. When in reality, like my frustration with reading and learning more about Chanoyu, it is a frustration of my own making. I have been studying tea for 30 years and I could be very fluent in Japanese and reading and translating these texts if I had been studying the language for 30 years as well. Sensei says, “If it is really important to you, you will know what to do and how to get what you want.”

For those of you, like me, who do not speak or read Japanese, I have compiled a reading list to get you started in English. Want to know more? I suppose you could learn to speak and read Japanese.

Permanent link to this article:

Tea Utensils Now Available at

I have just updated my store with Chanoyu utensils and new handbags.  Many old handbags are now on sale.  Natsume, chashakku, chasen, hishaku are now available at the store. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article:

Newly designed Issoan Tea Site now Live

Great news!  The Issoan Tea Site is back up again.  It is newly re-designed to make navigation much easier. (And updating much easier for me).  Eventually, this blog will be incorporated into the site.  I still have to figure out how to tranfer the archives here to get them to show up over there.  Until then, you can read it here where all the archives are, or you can read new posts starting in February 2012 at   I’ll let you know when the transfer takes place.

Permanent link to this article:

Michael Kenna in Hokkaido

I took the photo above rather in tribute to Michael Kenna. He is one of my favorite photographers.  He first came to my attention about 15 years ago, and I have been following his career ever since.  He works exclusively in Black and White film.  His photos are a meditation just to look at and remind me strongly of black and white sumie paintings.

I actually got to meet him in Seattle and he signed my first edition of his book, Japan. It came in a beautiful black silk slipcase with an embossed kanji for Nihon on the outside.  Inside the book cover is rising sun red with a simple white JAPAN on the outside.  As part of the exhibition, you were given a clipboard and paper and encouraged to write haiku as you went around the gallery to view the photos.

He has done much more work since then, in France, San Francisco, England and all of them very much in the same style.  I have several of his calendars that I turn over and over again.  You can see more if his work here.  And if you are so moved to purchase and support this artist, his publisher is Nazraeli Press where you can purchase a calendar for this year. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article:

Matcha Tea Tasting with Aoi Tea Company

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a matcha tea tasting with the Aoi Tea company.

It was educational to see how they taste and grade matcha.   To begin with, we looked at the tencha leaves.  The tea plants for matcha are grown under shade, and the tender leaves are harvested, immediately steamed and dried. Then the leaf part from in between the veins are used.This is tencha, before the leaves are ground.

I don’t know if you can see here, but there is a definite difference in the color of the leaves.  The pile on the left is a darker richer color green and is judged higher quality, the pile on the right is lighter and yellower and js judged lower quality. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: