We Tried a Tea Ceremony Experience in Kyoto
It gave us a more profound cultural experience.
Starting the tea ceremony
The entrance to the tea ceremony house
To enter the tea house, we had to go through a small 63x63cm square door. In the past, it was said that the tea room is a place where everyone is equal, which is why the door was made to be small. Inside the house, traditional ornaments adorned the room and tatami flats covered the floors.
The decorations inside reflect the current season.
The tea master started the ceremony as soon as we were seated. Traditionally, people participating in the tea ceremony should sit in the seiza position (to sit by folding one’s legs under the hip, knees together), but because it is a hard position to keep, some places prepare low chairs for people to sit on.
Afterward, wagashi was served. Everyone takes turns receiving the traditional Japanese confectionery. The wagashi is placed on a kaishi (a multipurpose piece of half-folded paper, used as a plate, handkerchief, tissue, and so on.) The wagashi is eaten with a bamboo stick.
Wagashi, a Japanese traditional confectionery
While eating the wagashi, the tea master prepares the tea. The matcha drink is served in a particular sequence. Before receiving the tea, one must bow to the master and other people. Next, the tea bowl must be received by the right hand and then placed on the left hand. The bowl is turned three times clockwise. This is for the drinker to properly see the bowl and appreciate its beauty. After turning the bowl, the tea is drunk in three sips.
The sweetness of the wagashi lingering in the mouth blends with the freshly made matcha. Combined with the calm atmosphere of the tea house, the deep cultural experience will give you a different appreciation for Japan.
The tea ceremony, with all its elements and set rules, reminds us of the well-organized culture of Japan.
Should you have a chance to come to Kyoto, you must try experiencing a tea ceremony. If you want to learn more, check out this website for more details.
(21 February 2019)