It was warm winter this year, so plum blossoms in Kitano tenmangu shrine in Kyoto have started blooming earlier than usual.
The friend of plum blossoms is a bird, nightingale.
We can see Japanese sweets shops sell dumplings shaped nightingales and students of tea ceremony lesson start practicing the way of tea called “Uguisu”, nightingale in Japanese.
The way of tea called “Nightingale”
Although it’s not written in the book of tea ceremony very much, we have the way of tea only for the beginning of spring called “the flight of a bush warbler from valley to valley”.
A nightingale folded fukusa cloth is on the fresh water container. Holding this container, a host will change the direction of the sitting place on tatami, which seems like the bird is flying from the valley to valley. So, we don’t use tea shelf in this way of tea.
Since the direction of the sitting place changes, a host should have the skill to do the way of tea in the opposite to the standard. It’s a little bit difficult but interesting seasonal way of tea.
*standard seating place: the guests will sit on the right tatami from the host. Almost all tea ceremony are set in the standard position.
Opposite seating place: the guests will sit on the left tatami from the host.
Plum blossoms and A nightingale written in Genji tale
The plum blossoms and a nightingale has been described in the short poem or literature since Heian period (794-1192) in Japan.
The beautiful poems are made by the hero and his friends in the 32th volume “Umegae” in Genji tale written by a woman, Murasakishikibu in 1008.
A man started singing a traditional song at night.
Hearing that, his friends made a short poem.
“I feel really comfortable hearing the beautiful song like a nightingale around a plum tree.” (Hyo-bukyonomiya)
“Please visit my home often this year until your clothes get some color and fragrance of plum blossoms in my garden.” (Genji)
“I’d like to listen to your beautiful bamboo oboe until the plum tree where a nightingale is sleeping get bended. (Kashiwagino chu-jo)”
Uguisu mochi;the rice cake shaped a nightingale
We can often see this Japanese sweets from February to March. The photo is Uguisu rice cake made by Oimatsu, one of the traditional sweet shop in Kyoto.
The sweet red beans are covered with soft dough made of rice flour. And toasted soybean flours are coated on the top.
We also have bright green Uguisu rice cake in Japan, but Oimatsu’s is modest.
Researching about the nightingale, they don’t appear in front of the human so often although we can hear their beautiful voice.
The color of the nightingale is thought as green in Japan, but real bird is modest color like this.
It’s very popular to see cherry blossoms in April in Japan, but how about enjoying plum blossoms with Uguisu rice cake in the early spring in Kyoto?