Like many of us, enthusiastic after coming back from my first trip to Japan more than a decade ago, I wanted to give my home a bit of a Japanese atmosphere. I tried very hard, but it did not work out.
Travelling back and forth, every time I was in Japan, I carefully studied the Japanese style rooms, architecture and decoration of the temples and the ryokan I visited. I took so many notes and pictures back home, every detail I observed. It did not help.
That was until once, when my Shakuhachi teacher announced to come to Bonn and teach at my place, and I spent a whole week cleaning each and every corner. No dust, nothing, nowhere … and suddenly it was there, this special atmosphere, which I believed to be so typical Japanese!
Since then, my preparation for seminars at my Dojo is not reading Zen books, or deep thinking about what and how to teach, or the schedule or the students’ background. It is just cleaning the place thoroughly, so my mind gets empty and the students can enjoy a bit Japanese atmosphere.