Strange bird, that Kiona-San

I am in Uji, on the “tea mountain” in Japan. After a delicious lunch, I walk to an unusual teahouse. You can choose some things from the menu here and then they prepare the tea together with you. I choose a Sencha and an iced-brew Gyokuro. The woman came back with the tea and all of the pots that we would need. She very calmly explained how we would prepare it. Although it is in Japanese, I understand what she means and I begin preparing. Making tea in silence. And the flavour is truly fantastic. Delicious. I enjoy every drop and pour three times. I decide to come here every day and order something different. I want to see how tea is prepared by as many people as possible. It is done here differently than in China. There tea is made everywhere, for everyone who just wants to taste. Here that is not the case at all. I have never been just offered tea and had to pay everywhere. Very different. It seems less interwoven into the culture.

After this delicious tea, I walk by a temple that lies a bit higher on the mountain. I walk to it and see that you can buy little strips of paper for a modest amount, with wishes on them. I buy two and hang one on the fence like many people have already done today. I see a couple of monks walking who are doing wash further up in the mountains. The atmosphere here is very unusual. You hear the paper wishes flapping in the wind. There are eight temples on this mountain. I look at all of them and each one has another deity. In one temple a very big white rabbit sculpture. It was a rather funny sight although I couldn’t laugh because everyone was bowing solemnly before it. For a white rabbit!

I walk further and am close to my hotel. I decide to pick up my laptop and go to the city to drink tea and to do some work. I walk into my hotel and panic breaks out. Thinking that I am already coming back and plan to stay, four personnel members immediately turn on all of the lights, everything to prepare for the guest. I want to say that I am just there to pick something up but there is no point because they don’t speak English. So when I come out of my room after 15 minutes everyone looks at me with surprise as I walk away again. Ha Ha. “Strange bird, that Kiona-san” they must be thinking. Everyone calls me that. Which is very sweet.

I type awhile in a little cafe and before I knew it, it was dusk. That is early. Half six and it is getting dark already here. I had already noticed that in my hotel everyone eats at six o’clock; before that they bathe and after that they brush their teeth and go to sleep, but the city already seemed to be asleep. I walk to the supermarket where I score sushi and a Japanese beer and walk through the deserted city to my hotel. The supermarket is open until one o’clock. For whom, is the question! Except for 10,000 mosquitos there is no one on the street. It doesn’t feel dangerous, everyone is just asleep. And I’m forcing myself to stay awake because otherwise I will definitely wake up in the middle of the night! So I have Uji to myself for the last hours of the day. When I get to my hotel room I make a delicious cup of tea for myself, set out the things that I need for my workday in the factory tomorrow. Set the alarm and off to sleep…

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