Behind the scenes of Professional Moron, our legendary editor (Mr. Wapojif) has been busy doing stuff in 2021.
The first was losing a metric tonne in weight, going from a 40+ inch waist in January down to 36- as of now. Proper belting.
And having read so much Japanese literature and essays over the last decade (see In Praise of Shadows), the second step was to finally get a load of Japanese products in.
This was so we could live out a mini-Japanese tea ceremony, enjoy miso soup more, and generally bask in a sense of Mingei and minimalism. Huzzah!
It’s All About Japanese Tea Stuffs
Right, most of the items we purchased were to bolster our general tea drinking ideals over the course of the day.
“Of course. The Brits! The Brits and their precious tea!” You chirrup. Well, yeah, I’m English and I drink a lot of tea.
But coffee is generally the beverage of choice in the UK these days. And for those who still drink tea, it’s only after adding milk, sugar, and whatever else they see fit.
George Orwell noted people who do that might as well just get a cup of hot water and add sugar.
One of the core Japanese values is to think about others. Plus, do you best, respect your elders, and contribute to society. You can see that reflected in the likes of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
They also have the concept of ikigai (生き甲斐), or “a reason for being”. Or a sense of purpose or bliss. And tea provides us with both!
Now, we’re not overly big on consumerism. Outside of food, books, films, and video games we don’t really ever buy much.
But we wanted to splash out a bit on this Japanese swag, which included teapots. The main one is proper fancy, but hasn’t arrived yet. We’ll do a separate (yes, a separate!) post on that later.
But for now we’ll make do with this super cute and design happy ceramic travel tea set.
It includes a Gaiwan teapot and teacups, stacked atop each other.
This thing is actually for travel purposes as you get a little carry case with it. So if you like travelling, and want tea, this is ideal for you.
As you can have a little tea ceremony wherever you may be in the world.
For us? As hardboiled Mancs this thing is largely for ornamental purposes. Because just look at the thing.
We also go a nifty coaster to go with these things, as a proper teacup needs somewhere nice to rest its bonce.
However, one of the main reasons for our yearning for these items was to finally get some proper Japanese teacups.
And our absolute favourite is this thing. Just look at it. Look at it! Imperfect perfection.
Oh yeah, we finally got a lacquer bowl as well. That’s for miso soup. It adds an extra dimension to the enjoyment factor, for sure.
But you may be wondering why we got all this stuff.
Well, foolish person, the idea is to inculcate (big word) peace of mind. We believe these minimalistic items are what people should be aspiring to own.
In a world of mass greed and supposed jealousy over superyachts, mansions, fast cars, and all that crap, the world needs to lean towards joy in minor things.
As championed by Yanagi Sōetsu, that’s where mingei (民芸) kicks in:
The hand-crafted art of ordinary people – 民衆的な工芸 (minshū-teki-na kōgei)
And amongst this, you should embrace Teaism. That’s an order!
In Okakura Kakuzō’s magnificent The Book of Tea, he waxes lyrical on the importance of embracing this ancient pursuit.
“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, and romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
And we consider that more important than ever.
We’re in a world where billionaires are flying into space just for the sake of it. And the belief is you’re a failure if you’re not a millionaire.
Yet we can own these most cherishable of items to brighten our day at any moment.
Items that are cheap, basic, hand crafted, and will stick with you for decades. They’re beautiful, they’re imperfect, and yet they’re everything.
And they instil a great deal of harmony and satisfaction in our daily lives.
The Best of Kawaii Culture
Yeah, so while we’re waiting on that fancy teapot we also got some silly things. Because. These were largely from the shop Kenji, which is in Manchester city centre.
Remember that cheese tea we got earlier this year?
Yes, Manchester is resplendent in excellent Asian stuffs. You really can’t argue about these cultural influences.
We also got this epic cuddly toy! It’s a plushie designed to be hugged (and maybe punched), with our one being a panda with a vacant expression.
Don’t you just want one of these in your life, eh? Of course you do.
And as always with us, our life and needs are about great maturity and sophistication… whilst being very silly and immature simultaneously. A fine balancing act.
The Japanese drink tea from a cup, and soup from a bowl. Both correct.
But why to they drink sake from a saucer? I watch those old samurai movies, where they are getting drunk on sake – and they are sipping from FLAT saucers! Couldn’t they drink it from a cup? Would’t they spill a lot that way?
I also think that the top photo of the tea pot looks like “Beaker” from the Muppet Show straight on.
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I’ve seen a variety of things for sake. Cups, saucers, bowls. If you check out a sake set there’s a big choice available.
In England, booze usually gets served in a giant pint glass. Manly! I just prefer all the dinky stuff.
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Yes, I have seen nice sake sets I would like to have with matching cups.
Its just that eveytime Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo) drinks sake he is always slurping it from a plate. I always think — get a glass man.
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You could go one better and drink sake off the floor? Maybe pushing the boundaries of social acceptability there. But it’s never too late to start a sake revolution.
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