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Topic: Japanese Tea Ceremony Cups & Balls
Message: Posted by: panlives (Jul 15, 2010 05:07PM)
While hanging out at one of my home city’s local magic shops, a traveling worker told me he was in Tokyo last month and saw what he described as a “really cool” version of the Cups & Balls.

It used the implements, movements and methodical pacing of the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony.

The description was quite detailed and I cannot repeat it as intricately as it was described to me. He did say that the traditional implements of the ceremony, from the cloth used to wipe the tea bowl, to the tea scoop which was carved from a single piece of bamboo (and acted as the wand), were all used to great effect.

The final loads were mounds of powdered tea poured out of small tea cups.

Has anyone encountered this kind of routine before?

I read a bit about the ceremony on Wikipedia and the picture below does seem to be an ideal staging ground for a Cups & Balls performance:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tea_ceremony_performing_1.jpg
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jul 16, 2010 12:09AM)
Paul Gertner has done a Tea Cup routine in his lecture for years. He uses a chop cup with a handle and tea bags. The finale is a pile of loose tea, not in bags.
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Jul 16, 2010 02:32PM)
If you want to see the Japanese Tea Ceremony being performed, watch the old Karate Kid II. It is extremely slow and precise, with much symbolic meaning. I can visualize this being done, but you would likely need to be a master of misdirection in order to be able to perform at this speed. Personally, I don't understand the Japanese enough to know whether or not a mimick of the ceremony for a magical effect would be acceptable entertainment or culturally insensitive.

Kent
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Jul 20, 2010 04:49PM)
Some time ago, I sent to Bill Palmer for his museum an original C&Bs routine about the Tea Ceremony.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 20, 2010 06:40PM)
I had forgotten all about that routine, which is very unusual for me, especially considering how well-scripted and well thought out it is.

This is a very clever routine.

Thanks for the routine and for reminding me about it. It has been just a little over a year since you sent it to me.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jul 20, 2010 07:17PM)
This is so funny... one of the people in the ceremony is taking photos....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCA0FVu1xQk&feature=related
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 20, 2010 07:24PM)
That's kind of like a bad wedding photographer.
Message: Posted by: kentfgunn (Jul 21, 2010 11:34AM)
Having spent entirely too much of my life in Japan I doubt very much any Westerner should attempt this idea without some serious trepidations.

For some the Tea Ceremony is a truly religious and spiritual event. To use either the implements or any part of the ritual would most likely be offensive to a serious Shinto or Buddhist practicioner of the Tea Ceremony.

I can imagine someone using chalices and the sequence of the Catholic/Anglican Mass as the background for a magic trick as well. It would be just as insensitive and probably a poor choice as well.

I am pretty politically incorrect in many ways. I swear like a sailor and have offended many, many people in my life. Don't use my reasoning as any sort of plumb-line or moral compass.

I still think a cups and balls routine based on a religious ceremony is at best inappropriate.

KG
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Jul 21, 2010 11:45AM)
Aw come on Kent. I was thinking of doing a Communion Cups and wafer trick at Easter. And maybe a 7 keys to Mecca during Ramadan. What could be wrong with that?

John
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 21, 2010 12:29PM)
[quote]
On 2010-07-21 12:34, kentfgunn wrote:

I can imagine someone using chalices and the sequence of the Catholic/Anglican Mass as the background for a magic trick as well. It would be just as insensitive and probably a poor choice as well.

I am pretty politically incorrect in many ways. I swear like a sailor and have offended many, many people in my life. Don't use my reasoning as any sort of plumb-line or moral compass.

I still think a cups and balls routine based on a religious ceremony is at best inappropriate.

KG
[/quote]

You just gave me a SMASHING idea for a cups and balls routine... ;)
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Jul 21, 2010 12:42PM)
[quote]
On 2010-07-21 12:34, kentfgunn wrote:
[...]
I can imagine someone using chalices and the sequence of the Catholic/Anglican Mass as the background for a magic trick as well. [...]
[/quote]

Yes... instead of just uttering a "magic" word, such as [i]abracadabra[/i], you could holler: "The power of Christ compels you!"

TW
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 21, 2010 01:38PM)
That's almost as good as Benny Hinn's cattle prod up the sleeve.
Message: Posted by: kentfgunn (Jul 21, 2010 01:45PM)
Heathen!

I am surrounded by heathens.

. . .

Oh, wait a minute, I'm a heathen too. Nevermind.

How about a cross for the magic wand and producing three bloody spikes as final loads in one's Chop-Holy Grail routine?

As long as you know you're being politcally incorrect and insensitive that forgives all sins. It's ignorance I can't stand.

KG
Message: Posted by: Woland (Jul 21, 2010 01:48PM)
Not very far from "Spiriti miei infernali, obedite!" is it? The origin of Abracadabra is also of interest.
Message: Posted by: jazzy snazzy (Jul 21, 2010 05:14PM)
:firedevil: :firedevil: :firedevil: ... we're all gonna burn.
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Jul 22, 2010 05:11AM)
Rules are done for the obedience of the fools and the guidance of the wise
Message: Posted by: panlives (Jul 22, 2010 06:03AM)
I did ask the fellow who related the story about the possibility of impiety or disrespect by mimicking the Tea Ceremony and turning it into a magical effect.

He told me that the concept of religious orthodoxy and notions of heretical sacrilege are not the same as they are in some Western (Middle-Eastern) religions.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 22, 2010 11:17AM)
Panlives is right about that.

A couple of decades ago, there was a restaurant in Houston called "The Happy Buddha." It was a takeoff on the Benihana chain, but without the franchise fee. It was named after a rather large Ho Tai statue that was in the lobby of the
restaurant. For those of you who are not familiar with this statue, Ho Tai is the rather rotund manifestation of the Buddha who is portrayed laughing, with his hands palm upwards above his head.

A local group that claimed to represent concerned Buddhists protested the name of the restaurant, stating that if they had opened a place called "The Jolly Jesus," the outcry would have been severe.

However, a number of people who were more familiar with Buddhist attitudes said that the group that complained were not Buddhist at all, but were people who owned a rival restaurant. Several Buddhists said that they understood about the statue and didn't figure that the Buddha would have been offended, either.

Sometimes this statue is called "The Laughing Buddha" or "The Happy Buddha."

Then again, one never knows what will offend someone who has a lack of understanding about a subject.
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Jul 22, 2010 05:10PM)
..........which brings to mind the ongoing discussion as to whether the trick known as "Chink-a-Chink" may be offensive to some and ought therefore to be re-named.

Fortasse
Message: Posted by: scottjenkins (Jul 22, 2010 08:06PM)
How about a religious themed restaurant for kids? You could call it Chuck E. Jesus!
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Jul 23, 2010 12:37AM)
[quote]
On 2010-07-22 21:06, scottjenkins wrote:
How about a religious themed restaurant for kids? You could call it Chuck E. Jesus!
[/quote]

I like it!

TW
Message: Posted by: Tom Fenton (Jul 23, 2010 12:05PM)
Or one in Israel called Cheeses of Nazareth.
Message: Posted by: malaki (Apr 24, 2018 11:50AM)
I know this is an old thread, but this conversation needed a bit of factual input.
Let it be known that I, in no way, intend to offend anyone or their culture. I have done quite a lot of reading on the Tea Ceremony and it's history for use in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), a group that studies and recreates the Middle Ages.

The Chinese were the originators of the Tea Ceremony - or tea party, as it would more accurately be described.
Originally, it was an opportunity to take a break, gather and enjoy some tea. If someone knew how to play an instrument or sing or recite poetry, then entertainment was informally presented for the enjoyment of all. It was a laid back gathering of friends and family, to enjoy a moment together over a common beverage.

When the Japanese witnessed the Tea Ceremony, they did what they often did when they found a Chinese tradition that they liked: they took it and made it their own.
The Japanese, as a culture, are very ceremonial and love precise ritual. They took what started out as an informal tea party and developed it into a ceremony that had to be performed just so. This has inspired thousands to learn it's very precise methods and practice it in a way that would spark similarity among magicians.

To do a C&B routine as a Japanese Tea Ceremony would probably offend.
To do it as part of a Chinese Tea Party, it would most likely go over well, as long as the culture was shown the proper respect it deserves.


As with anything else, do some research. The worst thing that could happen is that you might waste some time. The best thing that could happen is that you honor those from whom you borrow.