Day 13 / Kurokawa Onsen

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We went to Kurokawa to relax and on this day we did exactly that. After another delicious meal for breakfast we spend time in the ryokan. I checked the women’s indoor bath were I relaxed and had a nice chitchat with a cleaning woman. Still my Japanese is sooo small, but at least I can manage some real conversation, being able to reply to all this kindness in Japan. I also read some chapters in a book about tea ceremony I bought in the beginning of the semester, but never found the time to read until now. What a beautiful moment, sitting there in this stylish room, listening to the sound of the waterfall nearby and reading about so many interesting Cha-no-kai details.

We walked back to the village and leisurely visited two onsen there and another private one when we returned to Sanga Ryokan – the nicest I’ve ever been in. A round rotemburo in a wide wooden bathtub with amazing smell and a view on the other side of the mountain with greener than green marple trees. Sooo calm… and simply perfect.

Did I said, we had more than a lot for dinner the day before? This day they served even more! We could have had dinner for a hole week from what they put on the beautiful plates. It’s a miracle, that we didn’t died!


Day 10 / Kumamoto

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Without any hurry we moved from Nagasaki to our stopover Kumamoto. We first took a taxi and then everything very slowly.

Our afternoon program was just to visit the Suizenji Garden, which absolutely turned any negative thoughts about this city around, where we had difficulties in the past. The garden is named after a temple, which was standing here once, but contains two shrines now. The spacious garden shows the 53 stops of the Tokaidō, the road once leading from Kyōto to Tōkyō. Most impressivly is the Fuji-san in pure intensive green grass, which is also seen from the tea house, which once stood in the Imperial Garden in Kyōto. Enjoying some matcha and sweets (mine imitated an egg and had a whipped egg whites surface and was incredably delicious) we rested and had this amazing view when the clouds opened flooding the garden in even more wonderful colors.

After some succesful yukata and geta shopping and a nice curry rice dinner we had a short time sleep in our not so nice hotel room.


Day 7 / Matsue, Parting and Reunion

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On day number four of our tea trip three Japanese and one German girl overslept. There was no time for breakfast and in a hurry, they finished packing and joined the others, who were also dressed formal and neat. We were prepared for a special event – visiting a friend and teacher of our sensei.

We split the big group in two smaller ones. My group was the first one to drive to our famous host, who is a pottery maker and descendent of an old ceramist family. Knowing that the implements for making tea ceremony are very important one can imagine, how near to holy a traditional potter and his stunning work is to someone interested in Cha-no-kai. We were invited to matcha with delicious sweets and an appearently very nice talk I couldn’t understand a word of. Then we could see some of his art works and the huge kiln. Can you imagine, that the clay needs to rest in air for 40 years, before it’s used for making pottery? Absolutely stunning!! We also painted some simple cups, which was a nice way of producing a souvenir. Let’s see how and if mine will find it’s way to Germany.

We switched groups (I also switched into a pair of easier walking shoes) and went to the Matsue Castle, which is a relatively small, but very nice one. Before reuniting we again had some Soba and bought some Omiyage (Souvenirs) for families and friends.

Alltogether we went to one last museum, which exhibited some extraordenary pieces of pottery. Once again I experienced, that things can become intensively facinating, when you allow yourself a second look.

We spend the other half of the day traveling back to Kyoto, where I reunited with my father and to catch a good night of nearly enough sleep before leaving for our Japan tour. Resting… finally!


Day 6 / Adachi Art Museum and Matsue

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We were allowed to get a little more sleep and enjoyed a delicious breakfast alltogether. Our first tourist point than was the stunning Adachi Art Museum, which not only shows some amazing pieces of Japanese art, but also has presents a couple of Japanese gardens of absolutely superb quality. Everything very high-class and deeply inspiaring!

I cannot imagine, that anyone of us could have been hungry at that point, but we drove to a restaurant of a Ryokan, where we had a massive lunch. It was really delicious, but I still felt a little bit like being fatted. Speciality was mixed squish on rice with broth. Another idea to try to recreate at home.

We went to two tea houses. In the first we „just“ saw the beautiful garden and the tea house itself, in the second we also had some sweets and matcha. The sweets were delicious, one with ginger flavor, the other some kind of mochi with a green sugar crust. The woman who served us the tea bowed in a different way than we learned. I was told, that they also wear their Fukusa (a cloth used for cleaning the tea utensils in front of the guest) not on the left, but the right side as the other side was reserved for the sword. It is so amazingly interesting to learn all these details. With every element added to my knowledge the wish to continue the way of tea when I’m back in Germany grows.

In a short „free time“ break of not even one hour we visited three houses and museums such as the house, where Lafcadio Hearn lived in for some time. He wrote a lot of books about Japan in the late 19th century, which were published in the western world. It was quite interesting to see how a western person lived a Japanese life around that time.

You might think, this already is enough sightseeing for one day, but nope – we went to the Gessho-ji, a temple surrounded by a beautiful, deep forest. Impressive graves of the Matsudaira family, which ruled the area, and a giant turtle stature create the feeling of visiting an important monument. The moskitos were a little… well, moskito-ish.

Only after all this program we returned to the Ryokan, had a break and then another mouthwatering, extended dinner. And sometimes it’s good to always switch of, when people around you talk in another language – they can really surprise you, such as the Musabi tea club did, when they handed me a paper board with small messages and a cute drawing of me. They were preparing that over the day and I totally had no clue. Man, so heartwarming.

It’s a bit sad, we didn’t had this trip before the end of the semester. I got to know many of the students better than before. But what a wonderful experience. And language might be a barrier, but it’s still possible to talk about politics and socials. Me like that! 🙂


Day 4 / tea ceremony training

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I wonder, if I’ll be able to walk tomorrow… or even stand up. My feet and legs are… dead… or maybe just numb. But looking back on a day full of amazing training, yeah, it was absolutely worth it. My „partner in crime“ was allowed to share the experience, but now for three days he’s staying in Kyōto while I’m going on a trip with the Musabi and Tamabi tea circles, which welcomed me so wonderful in the last semester. I hope so much, that I’ll be able to continue the training when I’m back in Berlin.

Yeah, there were so many wonderful insights to see, but as it’s with things like these, when it’s so wonderful and important, making photos isn’t worth to make a break of soaking in the experience. But I can share a pic of a street near Gion, where we had a short dinner before training another three and a half hours.