Hi hi sisters .... ahhh, I finally have a chance to write about this - Tea Ceremony. Last November cloudnine took me to the annual Chanoyu Forum (茶の湯) organized by the Urasenke School (裏千家). Urasenke is one of the 3 direct descendents of Sen no Rikyu (千利休), the 16th century historical figure whose teachings defined the philosophy of Chanoyu today. The other 2 Head-Houses are Omotesanke (表千家) and Mushakojisenke (武者小路千家), together they are called the San-Senke (三千家). If you learn Chanoyu, the chance is you will be following one of these houses.
The Urasenke House and school is located in a quiet neighbourhood (sorry, I totally forgot where it is. Cloudnine?)
We were led to this huge tatami room. Since nobody was there, I just happily charged in to claim the first spot! Then cloudnine warned me that the student in the first spot is usually asked to perform certain tasks! Yikes, too late to back out!
Of course, there's the stove, otherwise they'll be serving ice tea :)
Every tea room has an alcove which is used for displaying 3 things - scroll, flower arrangement and incense. The scroll defines the theme of the chakai (茶会) and is different every time. Remember the Ichie Ichigo - once in a lifetime - motto of Yong Joon? The theme of this tea gathering is : It's still not too late to pursue what you want to do in life. I gasped that it is so appropriate in my current situation here in Japan! In this chakai, we were observers, not guests. Apparently, the hostess and guests both have different etiquettes they have to follow. So next time if you are lucky enough to be invited to a chakai, please don't just jump into the car and head over, better study the rules before you say 'Yes' :)
There are a few items a guest has to prepare for a chikai : linen cloth, kaishi paper, fan and more .... I'll tell you the proper terms and details when I attend my course next week, ok?
See how small these fans are (next to my handkerchief)? Cloudnine is so nice and gave me hers. The one on the right, isn't it precious?
Guests are usually dressed in kimono for specific reasons. Even the way they enter the room and move around have rules. See, this guest was kneeling and sliding her way across the room, not walking! (haha, I know what you are thinking, "she looks more like being punished than coming to enjoy her tea time" :)
She slid all the way to the tea prep area. No no, it's not self-serve tea. She was admiring the tea-ware @@
Then, the hostess came out and started boiling water and making tea.You see, that was very little interaction between the hostess and the guests, even the topics are carefully chosen.
I think guests are supposed to observe and appreciate the ritual instead of chatting their hearts out, so different from a western teatime with girlfriends :)
The hostess offered the guests some wagashi (Japanese sweets) The guests can also take time now to admire the tea-ware, usually antique or of artistic value Returned the tea bowl (with front facing out) to the hostess and arigato gozaimasu. A closer look at the wagashi, it's yummy with azuki (red beans) inside.
and matcha (green powdered tea). Told you it's not ice tea!
We had group discussion afterwards. Hehe, I was not in the pic, but my future sensei was :)
I remember one of the participants shared his experience about Chanoyu that got me interested : it brings him inner peace and calm where he can leave all the problems of life behind the paper-screened door and enters into a world of harmony and purity. I am looking forward to my Chanoyu lessons already :)