On my way. In Japan. With my japanese tea master. I’m sitting next to him in the car and ask him endless questions about the differences between shincha, sencha, bancha, gyokuro, and all other sorts.
He answers everything patiently. He teaches me the number of harvests, and this particular area has more than one. This guy has more knowledge, and the way he explains is calm, and collected. Unlike me, I get so excited over everything tea. While he’s explaining, I realise I am so glad I’m here a few days more. I need this. The information here isn’t as overwhelming, it requires attention, precision and patience. You need to ask specific questions, with specific answers in return. Good. Precision is part of the job. We drive through the tea area Uji and I notice the fields aren’t that big over here. In fact, most of them are small and are not high atop the hills. They are well-kept and look amazing; all leaves pointing the same way, no lost leaf to be seen. That’s Japanese precision for you.
It’s been a long day, but it hasn’t finished yet. The tea master has invited me to come and drink tea at his house. How could I refuse? To drink tea in Japan, at a teamasters house! I’m so excited!
My tea master's house resembles that of a Japanese temple. The hostess greets me with a freshly set cup of green tea. We eat sweets in between sipping our tea. For a minute everything is quiet, and in that moment, I find the beauty of the quietness so enchanting. It’s not awkward, it’s peaceful.
life without humor
We get back into the car so that my tea master can drop me off at my hotel. On the way we drive past a supermarket and because I’m curious (about everything in every country, ever) I love visiting supermarkets across the continents I travel. This tops all though. The tastiest, brightest things fill the aisles, and everything is fresh! I would love to go grocery shopping back home if everything looked like this! I ask my guide if the sushi here is nice, and he gives me a weird look. I’ll take that as a no. Oh no, wait, he’s putting four containers in his shopping basket.. So I take back my words, it must mean it’s good stuff. I guess I’ll take two then. Everything looks so good here, especially the packaging. It makes me want to buy stuff, just for the packaging. I know that it’d be weird. Especially because I am currently living on a straw mat, so it’d be a contradiction to be buying food, and wasting it ultimately, just for the purpose of aesthetic. Yet the most beautiful thing here, I find, is the simplicity in which people live. They do what's needed, never waste of haste, never do things unnecessarily. This also means no jokes. Kinda weird, a life without humour. Not necessarily boring though. Just simple and beautiful.
squeaky clean before bathing
I enter my room. It’s so empty that I can’t seem to figure out whether I like it or I feel weird about it. Mostly, the hotel rooms contain a sofa, desk and chair. This one doesn’t. Let’s just say it’s weird but serene. I decide to decorate my room with my own stuff. Neatly for a change, though. Normally, I just throw about my stuff, leaving a mess everywhere. Behold.. What has Japan done to me? I decide to go and try out the bathing rituals here, seeing as I’ve been in the same clothes for about 24hrs. Okay, so you enter the space with clothes on, which you then put in a basket. Then you walk onto the next open space, where you shower. There’s a lot of bath soap everywhere and trust me, it’s needed seeing how much people here are lathering it on. Everyone wants to get squeaky clean before bathing. I’m standing here with about, 10 other ladies, everyone else being Japanese. Doesn’t feel awkward tho. While maybe, in theory, it ought to be awkward, I don’t feel any tension. Then I proceed to step into the clear water. Nice and warm. With me, I take a small basin and allow the warm water to wash away all the dirt. After about half an hour I enter my room again, feeling relaxed. Also, I’m wearing a kimono now. Nice. If this is how bathing goes, I wouldn’t mind getting used to it. This is serenity. This is peaceful. Don’t forget I have to work tomorrow :)
I end my day by making myself a cup of tea at the legless table. I sit on the floor and look out over the river. With my tea, I eat sushi (the one from the supermarket). I think I could easily keep doing this forever. But that’d be impossible, right?