This weekend I was invited by one of my teachers to her house just to watch her teach tea ceremony. Her name is Mrs. Kawahara, and she floats around the schools as an art teacher. Though her hobby is Tea Ceremony, which is something that she has been practicing for almost 40 years. I guess by that point, you figure out how to do it, so now she teaches others. While my sex would prevent me from properly joining this circle, in a casual setting such as this, I can try out what I think is a really interesting piece of Japanese culture.
I know very early on in the blog experience I wrote about tea ceremony, but I saw a bit more this weekend. There is far more to it than a simple English tea time. An art reserved for women that dates many years back into Japanese history. It is an art of finesse and perfection, with an endless amount of rules and practices. The ceremony is conducted in different ways for every sort of occasion, with a differing set of rules for each. This is largely done in silence, aside from a few specific phrases that are also especially particular and don’t fall under the umbrella of common speech. The beauty of the art is centered around the host, who is the woman making the tea for all in attendance. Her meticulous handling of everything, and rehearsed attention to such details as what foot to turn on, how many steps to take, how to clean everything are really quite difficult to keep straight.
Anyway, for the practice that I was seeing, they were practicing a sort of high class tea ceremony. I don’t know how it differed, other than that the tea was a little different, as were the items used in the preparation of the tea. This was interesting, though after 2 hours of it, I was really ready to be getting home. Before that happened, she gave me a ticket to go to a tea ceremony at a history museum near my house that she would be participating in the next day. This sounded pretty cool, and since I had nothing going, I planned on going.
On Sunday, when I got there I went to sit down in a room filled with middle aged women in kimonos. I was the only male, and felt quite under dressed for the occasion. Oh well, it was no problem, not much could be expected of a male foreigner in this situation. The ceremony itself was just as I described above, but on the most professional of levels I had seen. Once again, I was sitting in the traditional Japanese style, on my knees. After a good half hour of this, those untrained find their legs as lifeless, worthless, and completely immobile appendages. And upon standing, they become lit aflame. Such was my fortune today. The event only lasted about 45 minutes, but it was really nice and I was a bit popular once it was over.
Here is a picture from the scene