So I was privileged enough to be invited to go to a JapaneseTea ceremony or “Cha no yu”. My friend has lessons in the art of Tea ceremony and the teacher allows guests for the New Year tea ceremony. Last year, I couldn’t go, but this year I got on my inner Zen and outer Kimono and joined this traditional ceremony. I borrowed my friend’s kimono, no mean feat as I am a fair bit taller than her, but we made it work. Almost an hour to get dressed and not an easy thing to wear I can tell you! Driving to the house in a kimono with a Obi at the back was an interesting exercise.. Walking another.. But there was more kimono wearing activities to come..
I had read a bit about the ceremony, so I thought I knew what to expect… Maybe I knew about 50%, certainly I had missed the history of it all and how important that was.. Anyway I got to look around before the ceremony started, but I’ll tell the story from the official start.
So firstly, the house we were in had a purpose built area for the Tea Ceremony… It’s a very small, simple, compact room with a low ceiling, a hearth in the floor, tatami mats, an alcove for display and a small door to the outside world. Outside is a small water feature, a stone basin to purify yourself with water. So we go out to the garden and rinse our hands and mouths, then we take off our shoes and enter through the small door (in a kimono!), so small that you have to crawl in through. (Samurai were forced to leave their swords outside while taking part)
Then you have time to admire the various items placed in the room for the ceremony and acknowledging the time of year. You are “seated” on the tatami mat (I had a small fall back chair – because it’s tough sitting Japanese style for any length of time) and after every one is inside, the door is closed.The fire is prepared using special charcoal and there are 2 types of tea served. The first one is thick and quite bitter and you share the bowl between a number of people, carefully wiping and turning the bowl between each person.The second is a thinner tea and you have a bowl to yourself, they are made one by one though. Beautiful sweets are served with the tea. There is a lot of ceremony about making the tea, passing the tea and I cannot begin to do it justice here. It was just a wonderful experience and although I took a couple of hours, I was so engrossed I forgot to take pictures for the first half… So all the photos are from after the thick tea part… After each part you get the opportunity to admire the told used in the previous part, tea box, whisk,
After the ceremony as over, we moved to another room and had lunch together, the food was beautiful and I really enjoyed the company of the elegant and forgiving ladies, who shared the day with me.. Moving forward and backwards in a kimono, to receive my tea, and to pass the empty dish back was another challenge.. I have the utmost admiration for the wearers of kimono, its not as simple as it looks..
Then the drive home with and within 5 minutes of getting home – kimono was off ! OMG what a difficult thing to wear.. But a truly special day for me.. Almost 4 hours in total.