Every year, we participate in the Portland Japanese Garden Moon viewing event. Over three nights the Garden hosts members in the evening to watch the moon rise in September. Usually we do not have access to the Japanese Garden at night, but for this event they set out chairs facing the moon, there are performances of shakuhachi, koto and poetry reading. Food, sake, green tea, and beer are served. The lanterns are lit to the tea house and we make tea by candle light. For the first two nights of this year’s moon viewing, we had perfect weather. The sky clear or just a little cloudy, the temperature perfect. The final day of the event, it rained all morning and afternoon. It was just a drizzle by the evening. But we are in Oregon and after a dry summer, the rain was a welcome and refreshing relief.
Even though we did not see the moon, in the tea house we had three. The scroll reads, “Seifu meigetsu wo harau” The pure breeze cleans the bright moon. And we had a white manju sweet with pampas grass branded on it. And finally we had a futaoki with 3 rabbits pounding mochi, the image on the full moon.
There were 4 students assisting me and everyone got to play different roles: teishu, kyaku and mizuya. I think it is always a good experience for students to participate in tea demonstrations especially at the Japanese Garden tea house. They get the experience of making tea in front of an audience without sensei sitting there and prompting every move. They get to set up for temae on their own and they get to be guest and eat the sweet.
When presenting tea in a public demonstration, it is different than making tea in class. Before the presentations, we had time to go over the temae, and it always seems different when it comes time to actually make tea. Even if we know the temae, without the teacher, somehow mistakes you would never make in class overwhelm you. When we make tea for the public, you want to do it perfectly, but it seldom comes out that way. Your mind goes blank and I have actually had out-of-body experiences where I looked down on myself making tea and being totally lost as to what to do.
This is what my husband calls working without a net.. You are on your own as to how to keep going, make tea and finish the temae. But this is what we train for. This is the time rely on your training and your body memory. The best thing is to take a few deep breaths and move forward. If you forget to rinse the chasen, it will be okay. Nobody died because the chasen was not rinsed. (At least we don’t live in Samurai times. The most important thing is to make good tea for your guests. If you can get the tea in bowl and hot water, you can whisk up an excellent bowl of matcha for your guest.
Sensei says, “If you are going to make a mistake, make it beautifully.”
Sensei also says, “In class you can do nothing right. But in a chakai (or presentation) you can do nothing wrong.”
So here are a few photos taken the night before. It was a beautiful moon.