The love story began years ago whilst a college student in Grinnell Iowa. A picture of an Iga-style Japanese vase in a magazine mystified me with it’s impenetrable beauty. Having experienced the unique beauty of both African and Latin cultures growing up, the Japanese sense of beauty seemed something completely apart from any other culture- still, silent and enshrouded. Although it would be years before my feet landed in Japan, I followed my heart as my hands discovered the many mysteries of clay at the potter’s wheel.
My training in Japan began in the tea room with years practicing sitting seiza, learning proper bowing ettiquette, aisatsu and in general learning how to be composed, still and silent. All these skills acquired through tea ceremony have come in handy again and again in my life here. There is a certain grace and dignity to be found in tea practitioners (as well as practitioners of most traditional Japanese arts) that is something to aspire to. Meanwhile, my true purpose of gaining a direct understanding of the tea utensils was fulfilled at the same time as offering me a well needed meditative break from a hectic life at home with three young children. My dreams of coming to Japan as an apprentice potter in some village had indeed taken a different direction, but, as is often the case in life, the gradual unfolding of this unforeseen path has led me in new and exciting directions.
Eventually the seven-year-itch of not having touched clay became unbearable, and despite many time and logistical constraints, I found a communal ceramics studio in my neighborhood in Tokyo where I could continue practicing clay.
My daughters meanwhile began studying Japanese traditional dance, and having done modern dance in the States, I was drawn to this area too.
I also began studying in the Sogetsu school of Ikebana, and whereas working in the studio was pretty much a solitary affair, I enjoy the community that our teacher has drawn together and the chance to share the creative act in a group. Exploring line, mass and color through Ikebana have provided a unique angle from which to deepen my artistic skills as well as my understanding of Japanese aesthetics. I see the meditative approach of Ikebana as a continuum of the silent state of mind cultivated in tea ceremony.
In the past few years, I’ve begun to discover a way to weave together all of these various
experiences and interests through offering unique hands on tours- the kinds of experiences I would have wished for years ago when the language and cultural gap still seemed insurmountable. It is my wish that through these tours, others may also gain an insider’s glimpse into the more hidden aspects of Japanese arts and culture, and fall in love, as I have, with the heArt of Japan.
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or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org