Thursday, 24 April 2014

The following two pictures are for all of Lluis' friends in Spain... 

They show Jinen and Lluis building an electric fence to keep the wild pigs out of the vegetable gardens.

Moritz's job this week has been to fix broken tools.

Building a new barn. Yudai on the ladder attaching a plumb line to the top of the pole. The holes housing the poles are two metres deep and the poles, once vertical, are stabilised with broken rocks.


When it's time for a morning break we take off our work boots and put on plastic slippers to wear in the indoor concreted areas: the kitchen and the soto shokudo. If we need to go further into the living quarters, where there are wooden floors and tatami matting, we leave the slippers behind and walk in bare feet or socks. When we take off the slippers we make sure they are arranged neatly and ready for the next person.


Morning tea is served by the tenzo. The only choice we have is the hot drink - although often the tenzo will make a sweetened herbal tea. Sometimes there is food, sometimes not. To my joy, on Tuesday there were oranges!

Konrad and Callum enjoying a tea break after barn-building.


My work this week was perhaps not as heroic as barn-building... I have been continuing to repair zafus and zabutons, following Ellie's method. There are 19 or 20 of us here at the moment so they can afford to have some people do repair work. It hasn't felt like work at all. The last couple of days have been much warmer, so I have been sitting outside enjoying the sunshine.

While looking for a bandaid in the first aid shelves we found something for every kind of emergency. 

Now that we have been trained to use the oryoki bowls, we use them for our breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is the most formal meal of the day and is accompanied by extensive chanting. We are expected to learn these chants by the beginning of May (!) These are my beautiful bowls (well, mine for a few months thanks to Seikan). Gusho san says we must try to make a good arrangement with our bowls. In fact, my bowls are supposed to be in line with Konrad's opposite. As Gusho san says, 'Beautiful is best.' Mmmm, I think the arrangement could be a little straighter.

Konrad cleaning his rice bowl in hot water.


After lunch and dinner, everyone helps to wash and dry the dishes. 

The chopsticks are dried in a tea towel and then arranged to allow for air-drying.

Most evenings we have a tea meeting. It is fairly formal. We sit on our knees Japanese style while work leaders, in turn, give a report on the activities of the day. They also announce or discuss what needs to be done the following day. Sometimes tea meetings can take 15 to 20 minutes and the newcomers, not used to sitting on their knees, experience a mute agony. As soon as Docho san and the tea servers leave the room and the formality breaks, the newcomers can move and recover some feeling in their legs and feet. But it takes a little time before it is possible to stand up again.


  1. Thank you for these wonderful photos and your sensitive observant reflections of daily life at Antaiji.

    1. Hello Kathy. Thank you for the feedback.