Have you ever attended or observed any Japanese tea ceremony before? They said that the ceremony has a very strict set of rules and etiquettes to follow. By following the etiquettes, it shows that we as the guests truly respect the ritual as well as the Japanese culture. In Japanese, there are several terms used to describe the ceremony. Chado or Sado means the way of tea, while, Chanoyu is hot water for tea. They will serve matcha and some sweets during the ceremony.
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The tea preparation and serving ceremony dates back to the 8th century when tea was first brought from China to Japan. Tea was used as a medicine when it was first introduced. In the 13th century, tea grew popular among the elites and those with higher social status. Then, Sen no Rikyu, a Japanese historical figure of tea master initiated the first tea ceremony in the 15th century known as “wabi-cha”. Wabi-cha in the Japanese language means simplicity.
Sen no Rikyu.
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The objective of conducting a tea ceremony is to create a calm atmosphere between the guests and the host. The philosophy of tea ceremony consists of four main elements which are Wa, Kei, Sei, and Jaku. Wa (harmony) means a peaceful ambiance and balanced environment during the ceremony. Kei (respect) stands for guests to respect the ceremony by minding their behaviors and to treat everyone in the room fairly. For Sei (purity) is to cleanse their mind and soul as they enter the room. This also applies to the host too as they need to have a pure heart to conduct a tea ceremony. Lastly, Jaku (tranquillity) is when guests have absorbed the three elements into their body, only then they will feel tranquillity.
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Usually, there are only four to five guests in a tea ceremony. Each of them has a title and will be seated accordingly. The first guest is called Shokyaku, the second guest is Jikyaku and the rest is called as Tsume. Meanwhile, the host is known as Teishu. Shokyaku will act as a communicator to ask questions and show gratitude to the host. Shokyaku needs to be very humble and respectful towards the host. Whenever the host returns his queries, Shokyaku must say thank you.
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The tea ceremony is normally held in a traditional tatami room furnished with beautiful yet simple decorations. The wall decoration, utensils, and flowers are all part of the ceremony as the host have carefully chosen the suitable accessories. The room is usually surrounded with garden and guests need to purify themselves by washing their hands at a stone wash basin upon entering. After that, guests should put on a conservative clothing or a kimono, take off the shoes and wear the slippers provided. Then, guests must sit on a cushion in a seiza (kneeling) position.
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Furthermore, guests should not speak of anything that is not related to the ceremony. If they need to ask questions, please mention to the Shokyaku. Before the matcha is served, guests will be given a wagashi (Japanese traditional sweet). The wagashi will be placed on a paper called kaishi and needs to be eaten using youji (a wagashi sweet pick). The sweet is intended to wash away the bitterness of the matcha later.
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Then, the host will prepare the matcha in front of the guests. They will put the tea into a hot water and whisk it using the tea utensils. The matcha will be passed to the first guest, Shokyaku. Pick up the tea with the right hand and place it on the left palm. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees when the decorative part of the bowl no longer facing the Shokyaku. Before drinking the tea, Shokyaku needs to utter ‘Chodai Itashimasu” which means “Thank you for making the tea”. Next, turn to the other guests and say “Osakini” which means “Excuse me for going before you”.
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After the first guest took a sip of the tea, he must wipe the bowl using a kaishi and pass it to the next person. This is to ensure the cleanliness of the tea bowl. When the last guest has finished drinking the tea, he will return the bowl to Shokyaku. Shokyaku will ask the guests if they would like to drink more. If the guests said no, Shokyaku will check the condition of the bowl before turning it to the host. He must place the bowl the same way the host presented it to him. Lastly, the host will clean up the tea ceremony and the utensils.
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Drinking the tea during the ceremony requires a little bit of grace as one needs to sip instead of gulping. Some tea ceremony might reach up to four hours, depending on the number of guests. Before leaving the room, bow and give thanks to the Teishu for hosting the tea ceremony.
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Other than that, you can also partake in tea ceremony classes. At Kimono Tea Ceremony Maikoya Osaka, here you can wear kimono and learn the etiquettes for the tea ceremony. This place is highly recommended by tourists and it was awarded as the best tea ceremony venues by TripAdvisor. You can join several types of classes here like, tea ceremony and sweets making.
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Overall, the Japanese tea ceremony is suggested for tourists, especially. You’ll be able to learn Japanese etiquettes and the right manners during a formal occasion. It’s also good for your health and mind too as it cleanses your thoughts while in the tea room. Be a part of the Japanese tradition that has been going on for hundreds of years.
Kimono Tea Ceremony Maikoya Osaka
Address: 5F, 407-2 Shimomaruyacho (Kawaramachidori), Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Opening Hours: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Contact Number: 050-6865-3691
Closest Train Station: Yotsubashi Station/Nishiohashi Station