Yoshizen's Blog

Tea Ceremony — 茶の湯、侘び助

In relation to the Sazanka post, I was looking around the Camellia flower items in the Wiki.    There are many funny stories about a mystical rare variety of the Camellia called Wabi-suke.  

You may vaguely know about Japanese Tea Ceremony — how it was refined and sophisticated etc and saw many photos of the Tea bowl, Tea room and its garden, though you may not having any idea, who actually taking part of those gatherings in the time of Samurai era.

—– In reality, if you imagine a kind of political, financial salon or a gentleman’s club = it must be the closest.  The Tea master, who host the ceremony, was THE power dealer pull the string.    The higher the reputation of the Tea master, the guest or friend is high in the position.  The Load of the country could meet the other lord in a completely isolated, safe environment such as a Tea hut in a temple.  (Anybody go into the room has to take off their sword and kneeling into the small room.)  Tea master arranged the meeting in certain intention.  So, an alliance deal could be made or needy War Lord could meet rich merchant and able to borrow lots of gold for a war operation etc etc.

Naturally, there was an ugly battle between the Tea masters, Who is the most prominent.   So, to have more valuable Tea bowl in “Wabi” became a harsh competition. = Who could offer the highest price for a bowl, kind of the battle. 

—– then, a new variety of Camellia, which doesn’t fully open its small flower was introduced into the cercle.  The flower got instant hype “This flower shows really held back humble shape.  This is THE flower to be seen in the supreme tea place”.  The particular flower was named “Wabi-suke”.  Imagine, if the Lord was greeted by a bunch of flower worth thousand of gold — guess, its effect. 

So, the shady battle to get hold the flower was fought among the Tea masters which involved even fraudulent flower growers who try to trick with sham branch with huge price.  (Think, the Black Tulip hype in the 18C Europe = when the big money involved, it creates crazy hype.) —— The trouble was that the “Wabi-suke” was not an established variety, (even worse, the definition was rather vague, such as “Smaller” and “Flower wouldn’t be fully open” kind = such flower could be just a result of a malnutrition or lack of water, and similar flower could be produced by temporary hybrid — but never repeated again and so on — etc !) —– So, even today, some says “I believe this is “Wabi-suke” but others sees not or “My one is Wabi-suke” but others doesn’t agree —– People could see every DNA of the “reputedly” or “claimed to be” Wabi-suke though, no-one is shure which one is true Wabi-suke.   It’s so funny.)   😀

(Now you must become aware, Tea Ceremony, Tea Masters are not necessary peaceful decent kind. — could have been a center of conspiracy.   In real histories, the association of War load (even Shogun) and the Tea master, Zen monk as an Adviser or Strategist was well-known.)    😀  

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Fancy Eat a Lamb ?

India complains over ‘offensive’ Australian lamb commercial

(There was a kind of diplomatic / cultural conflict.)

India has lodged an official complaint over an Australian advertisement that features the Hindu god Ganesha and other religious icons endorsing lamb.
In the TV commercial from industry group Meat and Livestock Australia, a number of religious figures — including Lord Ganesha, Jesus, Buddha and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard — are seen sitting down together to a lamb-based meal and raising a glass to the meat.
The image of elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, who is widely considered to be vegetarian, was met with anger in Australia’s Indian community.
The Indian high commission (embassy) in Canberra said it had taken the issue up with the Australian government.
Lord Ganesha along with other religious figures is found to be ‘toasting lamb’, which the Indian community consider to be offensive and hurting their religious sentiments, the commission said in a statement Saturday.
The Indian consulate in Sydney has also made a direct appeal to Meat and Livestock Australia to withdraw the commercial, according to the statement.
The industry body said it was meeting community groups to respond to their concerns.
It said it had undertaken extensive research and consultation when producing the advertisement, which was intended to promote inclusivity and not intended to offend.

(2017/09/12 14:22) – AFP-JIJI Press

It was an absolutely bizarre story, regardless whether any ground of complaint, even a shred of evidence whether any proven fact behind — or not.  Other than Ron Hubbard, no-one can proof even an existence of other figures like as what some of us are believing.  Not mention Hindu God, to believe the stories of those “religious figure” are just exists in the imagination of the people.  Think, to deny the story or alleged experience of UFO could make an insult to the person ?

Still, the “Real” trouble is, there are many attacks and killings of the person who is handling or eating Beef meat has been kept happening in India.

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Amaya !

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In the 80s, before CD, the source of our music was an analog casset tape and a Walkman, if not a FM radio.  (Still, there was a possibility to resort with vinyl disc, open tape, AM radio, even live music etc)  So, I was collecting some tapes, or even making live recordings. 

Other than the photography, a Raison d’etre of me in the west was to feel the music in its original acoustic environments —– in fact, I made no secret why I took a boat from Yokohama to Siberia and to the west was to listen the Organ music and the Spanish Flamenco, both of them needs to be in the original location.   If you listen the Flamenco music and see the dance in a Tablao (a wine bar with flamenco performance) you must hear that the audiences (participants ?) not only clap the hand but often shout (give a call) = calls “Ole”, “Asa” or “Amaya”(sounds amaja = in spanish, Y pronounce as J — J became H ) = I asked what is the difference of those calles , Ole, Asa, Amaja —– people said all same.    Still, Ole seems to be highest praise = “Great, Go on Go on” and Asa seems “Good, carry on” but Amaja was a ? ? ?

Some days ago, when I checked Youtube viz, I found an old viz of Carmen Amaya among the mountain of flamenco.

Some of viz saying “Legendary Amaya” = It seemed She was the great dancer and a singer, as Wiki tells the impressive story. —– with a flash of inspiration, I realised that a call of Amaja was, in fact the name of Carmen Amaya.   It was somewhat the same to give a call to the beauty queen “Cleopatra” = To call a dancer Amaya mean, “You are as good as legendary Amaya” or “You are a Reincarnation of Amaya” = the best praise.  The name Amaya has become to be the Honorary Title for the bast dancer. (Of course, people calls it for a compliment — Don’t be too serious.  It was not a selection of National Academy. —– In the other hand, now I became aware that there is a sensitive issue behind = since Carmen Amaya was a Romani / hitana / gipsy, therefore very tricky minefield is here, such as to give a call Amaja to a non Romani dancer could be an insult = has to be careful = better just call Ole or Asa. )

(This was what I thought, but if you know the otherwise or have a different view please give a comment here.)

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Sazanka / 山茶花 (Sazanqua ?)

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As a garden plant, Camilia Sazanka is a rather popular one.   She open the flower earlier than the real Camilia (Camilia japonica / Tsubaki / 椿).   But, as its name Sazanka (山茶花) suggests, it got rather funny story behind.   Camilia family is not a big family and the members share the character closely.   As one of the prominent member, Camilia sinencis (or Camilia Cha = Tea) can make tea, so does the other Camilia. (as, I heard though I haven’t tasted such tea ever.   😀 ) And the real Camilia = Camilia japonica is famous of its seed oil (Tsubaki oil / 椿油) the other member can produce the good oil too —– my guess is, that when the selling point is “Genuine Tsbaki” other oil might be used only to dilute and bulk-up the genuine one.    The name Sazanka (山茶花) seems exposing such kind of story.

The writing of its name Sazanka mean Mountain Tea Flower = regarded to be a tea but, branded to be the second class.  The funniest part of the story was in its reading of the name. = Mountain/山 Tea/茶 Flower/花 should be read San Cha Ka or San Sa Ka.  Though, even in its earliest stage after she was named, she has been called Sazanka.  The reason must be its better sound. (Sazanka sound nicer than Sanchaka !) —– Yet still, nobody thought to change its writing to/茶 山花.   Japanese is very fussy about those writing but in the same time they likes the relaxed joke as well.  (Reading Kanji correctly, you got to know it beforehand.)

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Japanese reading (of Kanji 漢字)

It’s no doubt, the hardest part to learn Japanese is in the reading of Kanji 漢字(so-called Chinese character, Japanese got other types of characters, Hiragana ひらがな and Katakana カタカナ as well). Reading of particular Kanji in its particular case may differ from the other.   It may be originated from the ancient Japanese word, or the word related to the Chinese word, hence taking its pronunciation from Chinese — though, there are many different Chinese Pronunciation, from north to south, the different historical kingdom etc.    In short, to read Japanese correctly, you need to know it beforehand. ( = You needed to encounter it before and refer to the dictionary then —– and remember it !)  Make the situation worse, that there are many peculiar words originated from the Buddhism, Confucius, Medical term, Scientific term etc etc. —– (Somebody said that to learn such system from the childhood, it must be a strong stimulation to the brain = so, it’s no wonder why Japanese is receiving so many Novel Prise, while Korean (Who use only simple Hangle ) got non.)

Rather recently, there was a political farce involving even Japanese PM around a word Sontaku (忖度 = mean consideration — I didn’t know such word existed, let alone its reading ) whether the PM gave a special favour when a government land was sold to a private organisation with a huge discount.  (It could be a scandalistic corruption !)  (Think, does the word “Attention” mean favourable special treat ? — or just a handling equal to the other ? = Whether a recipient can sue the officer as the attention the person received was not what expected ?)

See a sample.  Climb a mountain = Yama ni noboru = 山に登る = To-Zan = 登山 —– The word Yama is an original Japanese, we’ve been using it thousand of years. —– Then, the Chinese Kanji was imported = 山 was assigned to Yama which Chinese pronounce Shan or San and here a character 登 was used to express climb = noboru (though, Chinese use it in a bit different meaning)  The same Kanji 山 was read as Yama or San (Zan).  (If you mixed up, you would be only a laughing-stock = Similar to a situation when you ask the direction “Where the Gare Nord” in Paris.   😀 )  ——  In the next post, I’ll show you when Japanese made complete mistake. (or made a joke knowingly )

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Ideally ~~~~ or Typical

Think, about your own life, — how can it be “Ideally” re-organized.    Then think about how is your typical daily life ?  —– In either case you may need to think quite deep.

—– So, how about, can you imagine “Typical Buddhist” or “typical Muslim man” ? You may say that you don’t know about them deep enough, or you might draw an image of a caricature = funny exaggeration based on the popular stereotype.   As those Notion of Ideal, or Typical kind were artificially created abstract notions for the convenience of communication or try to show how I am intelligent, they never represent a reality.    Real truth is always stays few steps behind of “Ideal” or “Typical” —– and we all know it.

So, the obvious FACT is, what so ever the imagination you have made-up here just now, in the actual daily life, you ARE just carry on your same old daily Life = You must be realized here, extreme or exaggerated idea came up when you INTENTIONALLY THINK = otherwise you are not having such image or notion = In a real daily life, you ARE living without any artificial conscious of “I AM carrying out my living operation”.  —– As a matter of FACT, while reading this blog, you are even NOT aware of YOU are reading this.   While away from intentional thinking, we ARE naturally following the way of the commonsense or what the Buddhists call Dharma.  Of which we unconsciously follow.

This IS what all about of SELFLESSNESS, and the real situation of the Middle way. (Both extreme were created by the intentional thinking = live without such thinking  (Selfless Mushin)  we can follow the Dharma and it IS the very Middle Way.

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Bach — Bernstein — Gould — Zen

Oh my Goodness.    I bumped this old film clip, on Youtube = Leonard Bernstein and Glenn Gould talked about J.S.Bach.
Film was shot on 57 years ago, 1960 then Glenn Gould was 28.   Naturally the film showed the two’s younger looks but what surprised me most was, on that time Bernstein was already “the Educator Bernstein” and Gould was “the Only one, Gould”.

(Other nearby Youtube posts, Gould or Bernstein posts are very educative and highly recommended to watch !)
In fact, me to encounter Bach first time was in the Fellini’s film, “La Dolce Vita” —– in the film, a gossip journalist, Marcello met a church organist and the organist played Bach’s music, Toccata and Fugue in D-miner (the most famous and popular organ music — famous still it was the first encounter to my 15-years-old ear)   (incidentally, that the same actor who played the organist later appeared in the other film “Emanuel” as a sex-gulu ! )

I think, it was the early 90s, I listened a BBC annual radio 3 event, the Christmas Lecture, Bernstein talked about the structure and the music language.  It opened my eyes. —– in fact, it taught me more about our emotion than of the music. —– If the music could expect the same effect, it is the proof of that our emotional pattern is much simpler = such as how we feel from major or minor key, even B-miner is associated with the feeling of death ! — how accurate his view was the other matter, but such a view-point to analyze the relation of us to the music was a shock to me. 

So that, that was the same stance, how and why I adapted my view toward the Zen = instead to see it as a holly spiritual mumbo-jumbo but the scientific / medical phenomenon of the neuro-physical function.

Amazingly looks ordinary young man, Gould was already a master of the finger of a Harpsichordist and already know what is the Bach = mean what he is going to do with him = the man aware of his own karma.  (People became aware of their own karma on their later life —– I wonder how he found it in such early life ?)

***** PS:   Related post (following links)  J.S.Bach,  Aaaaaa~~~~~!  are highly recommended post to go. (They clearly explain what I said here.)

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Baby Corn

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While taking the husk out of the corn (on the cob = maize = indian corn) I found something the addition on the bottom of it. —– They were the baby corn.    I’m not sure whether this is the way how baby corn was grow (and harvested)   Then I realized that they are just a miniature version of the normal corn = nothing else.  They are not wearing a wig for the weekend.  They carry the exactly the same task = fertilize the each grain of the corn.  Same as the human foetus having all the organs = heart to the brain, baby corn expect and prepare to become full-sized corn.  Baby corn is not a joke.  (Don’t you know, if you give enough water and the sunlight, the each sprouts will grow to full size cabbage ! —– I’m just kidding.   😀 )

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Mizu-yokan

After I cooked Sakura-moch, still some Anko (Sweet red-bean paste) left in my hand.  I could finish them just eat on a piece of bread though, eat them with bread is not much different from eating “An-pan” which we can easily buy from a shop, I decided to make a Mizu-yokan which I haven’t done despite of my long-standing promise.  🙂
Basically Mizu-yokan is a kind of Jerry cake = Anko was (semi) hardened by a Jerry from a sea-weed (called Kanten / same as an Aga-aga from an eastern food shop —– we don’t use animal Jerry, it got to be made from a seaweed) (Photo left)   Dried Kanten or Aga-aga has to be boiled untill they were completely dissolved. (Photo middle)  Then, Anko was mixed into Kanten liquid and they were boiled together —– then, put them into a container and made them cool down and hardened.  (Photo right)
So, this is a Mizu-yokan.  Eat them chilled.  Made them with different densities Anko-Jerry mixture and make two-storied Yokan — if you like.  (I wouldn’t say this sample is anything successful or looks typical —– still, they filled my stomach.  😀 )
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Sakura-mochi (Japanese Cherry cake)

Sakura-mochi(1)-DSC07142Sakura-mochi (桜餅) is a common Japanese sweets.  You can buy it from any Japanese sweets shop.  It is not a kind of very complicated cooking still not many people ever attempt to make it by themselves.  (May be to make Ohagi / Botamoch could be the farthest people does.)    Many years I’ve been thinking “Why shouldn’t I make it” and “I want to eat — I haven’t eaten it more than 30 years”

So, this is my attempt to make it though, I never seen how it was made neither my mother told me how.  Therefore, all I’m showing here were done by the sheer guess-work and I wouldn’t claim any authenticity in a Japanese sweet making tradition or any suggestion pretending any kind of wise man.

Sakura-mochi(2)-000From the improvised idea of Rice-cake making,  I used White Rice powder and Glutinous Rice powder half and half, because if it was pure glutinous rice it may become too sticky. (Photo left)  So, I mixed one large spoonful of each powder and one small spoonful of sugar with 3 and half large spoonful water. (Photo middle) then put a half runny mix to a dish and Micro-waved (Mid-High, 1.5 to 2 minutes)
So, the Photo left was the cooked skin of the cake. —– carefully peel it off and use it to wrap up the Anko (Sweet Red bean paste) (Photo middle) —– Then wrap the whole cake with salt pickled Cherry leaf. (Photo Right)
Sakura-mochi(4)-DSC07152Voila, here it is.  Japanese Sakura-moch.  —– Looks genuine ! (isn’t it ?) —– The taste was genuine (what else could it be !) —– (If I could steam the finished whole cake, the flavor of the Cherry leaf would have gone into the cake more.)    Considering this is the first ever attempt in my  life (in fact, I did one test run before Photo shooting) = the result wasn’t too bad.  “Well done Yoshizen” (eat two Sakura-moch made a man Fully satisfied !   😀  )  

Incidentally, the Cherry leaf was meant to give nice flavour and a looks good wrapping, and not meant to be eaten. (I hope, you didn’t try eat it with struggle. 😀 ) There is other variation of this = Kashiwa-moch (柏餅), which use an Acorn like Kashiwa’s leaf for wrapping though I couldn’t find that tree in this country.    Kashiwa-mochi was meant to be eaten on the day of the Boy’s festival (端午の節句) = 5th of May.   And the Sakura-moch was originally for the Girl’s festival (桃の節句)    (I guess) though, it became so popular, you can find them all year-long. (Nothing wrong with it.  🙂  )

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PS : While giving a thought, I realized that the Kashiwa-moch must be invented first.    When you play in a Shinto shrine, you clap the hand = it called Kashiwade  (柏手).   The leaf of the tree Kashiwa has a shape of a hand, hence the hand spread the fingers was called Kashiwade, and the Kashiwade is a symbol of the honest, single-minded clean person (think it in comparison to a gripped hand which could hold a weapon and next moment it could hit you).  So, a boy’s parents wish their boy grow to a strong honest man and think the things associated with Kashiwa is auspicious.

—– So, a clever owner of the sweet shop (和菓子屋) invented a sweet wrapped in a Kashiwa leaf = Kashiwa-mochi and sold for the boy’s day’s celebration.   It must be a big hit, then they thought, if there is a sweet for boys, why not for girls as well = then Sakura-moch was made.   🙂
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