There is a scene in Howl’s Moving Castle where Sophie steps out from a portal into a landscape of never ending flowers and utters, “It’s like a dream”.
This is the reality that I have found myself in, here in the mountains.
Although I didn’t even know the name of my teacher prior to the day I went up the mountains, the providence of how compatible everything is still unbelievable.
My teacher’s name is 何啟徵 (He Qi Zheng), the studio I’m at is named 古意窯 (Gu Yi Yao). It is an open floor-plan house space where you can work with clay, drink tea, farm, daydream while watching the fog roll in, perform a formal tea ceremony all within a stone's throw from one another. Aside from the bedrooms and living room everything is completely or partially outdoors. The music vibrate off of the wooden floors and dissipates into the soft pattering of fog mist. At night a choir of frogs enthusiastically serenades you to sleep.
There are three white shiba inus that reside here, they greet you every morning with the enthusiasm of long-lost friends, finally reunited. They bring you your slippers, you slip them chunks of braised beef.
The harshest instructions I've received has been to stop working and come drink tea.
In a month I’ve learned more about clay construction and wood firing then I have in my 4 years of formal art school education.
I’ve had an endless amount of teas - including decades old pu’ers hoarded by a tea buyer who’s been in the industry his whole life.
I’ve had a gaoliang closer in age to WWII than to me.
I've worn house slippers straight up into a country restaurant.
I’ve witnessed first hand the death of a dog and stepped into a room where a man had died a few days ago.
I now know what it is like to pry chunks of wood in front of a miniature sun (1250 C/ 2282 F).
I’ve had multiple life conversations with my teachers and his friends and have experienced incredible, surreal peace.
Everyday we all wake up around 5/6am, we watch the weather, drink tea or coffee, and sit until we’re ready.