And I have to say, I do not get the character-hatred. The idea of reading Chinese in pinyin, even with tone markings, gives me the horrors. This is because I've read all hiragana Japanese and it's horrible. Horrible for the foreign reader, certainly; a native speaker might provide meaning and context by ear, but god knows I can't. So pace almost everyone I've read, dispensing with characters will *not* make reading easier for foreigners at all at all at all.
Also watched an hour of an NHK special on tea caravans that travel through Tibet. May rethink this taking ikkyuu business because dear god my ear (and my vocabulary) is so baaaad.