It seems that I was not the only one to find yesterday difficult. A young Japanese man reached breaking point and left Antaiji at midnight. I hope he reached Hamasaka safely. I didn't know him very well but I am told he was feeling isolated because he didn't speak English. There are a lot of Europeans here at the moment and, although English is not their first language, most do not speak Japanese fluently. So, during work times and when socialising, English is the lingua franca.
As it was Hosan today there was no zazen and we were able to sleep in. Breakfast was at 7am.
Since my comment about the lack of sweet foods at meal times, we have had some delicious sweet dishes. Yesterday at breakfast time we were served a fruit compôte. This morning we were served rice porridge with a cinnamon and sugar topping, pancakes with orange sauce and some sort of fried tuber in a subtle syrup. Oishii deshita!
Today I learned how to repair a rice paper screen. But first I had to break it. This was not difficult to do with a clumsy hand and vigorous dusting in the Hondo. I was hesitant to tell anyone because I have made so many mistakes already. I didn't think I could cope with more correction! However, when I told Jinen he was not at all angry with me, and when I offered to mend it, Jisui showed me how. Not that I did much. I mainly observed.
It was Hosan today, so no organised work. Gusho san taught us how to use the oryoki bowls which we use at breakfast and dinner time. At the end of the meal the bowls are not washed in the conventional way. They are washed and packed away at the table. Here he is explaining part of the cleaning process using a kettle of hot water.
We each have a place where our oryoki sets are kept.
Here Gusho is showing us how to sew a cotton pad onto the setsu. The setsu works like a small spatula and we use it to clean our bowls. As a cleaning tool it is almost as effective as a tongue.
This afternoon I was mending a cushion in the soto shokudo when I heard an entrancing musical sound coming from the kitchen. I could tell it was water, but it was quite loud and it seemed to be saying something. I am used to trains talking, but this was the first time I had heard water talking. Furthermore, it was talking in Japanese. I could not catch all it was saying: something, something o kudasai; something, something o kudasai - over and over. Very polite. When I investigated I found it was the water flowing from one of the sinks into this drain. Clearly it was time for a tea break.
I want to close the post with a photo of the room I share with Eko san. You can see Eko san at the kitchen sink in the previous photo. She is the current tenzo and cooked the wonderful breakfast this morning. We each have a small desk - mine is on the right. At night we pull out a futon and other bedding from a cupboard and unroll everything onto the floor. It is usual to sleep on just one futon, but I have been sleeping on three. However, last night I reduced it to two, and maybe in a few weeks I will reduce it further to one.
I really look forward to bedtime. These days bedtime is at 8.30, ready for a 3.30am start.