Dating back more than 900 years, tea ceremonies in Japan were a way of welcoming guests . Participating in one yourself is a must if you visit Japan. Which is what I did today on my first day in Osaka.
Tucked away on a quiet street in the Nishi Ward, is the Maikoya Tea Ceremony House. It is a small, detached structure as required for a tea ceremony to be performed.
Walk up the red carpeted steps and deposit your shoes on the shelf by the door. Enter and be greeted by a kimonoed woman who will take you one flight up to help you prepare for your tea ceremony experience.
The choice of wearing a kimono is optional, but it is a once in a lifetime experience. So why not? Besides, it was fun to dress up and it made the ceremony feel more authentic.
The ceremony room is on the second level and once you are seated on cushions on tatami straw mats facing your kimonoed hostess.
The way of tea “chado” has deep roots with Zen Buddhism, it’s principles introduce beauty into the daily routine of Japanese lives. It is that calming affect which the tea ceremony focuses on.
As a welcome, we were served a small Japanese dessert as was done for many centuries before. It was like a triangle pastry and had a cinnamon taste.
First is the cleansing and purification of the tea leaves to make sure they are safe for drinking. The movements are precise and concentrated to make sure every step is completed with care.
Once your hostess shows you how to prepare the tea, it is over to you. You are given tea a ceremony bowl with hot water and green tea. You bow and give thanks to the tea, then take your bamboo whisk and skilfully whisk the tea. The more bubbles the better.
To drink the tea, you first bow before picking up the cup up with your right hand and your left hand is placed underneath it. Turn the cup clockwise twice before drinking the warm, delicious green tea mindfully. Savour all the flavours of the green tea leaf.
Ideally, you finish the tea in two sips and with the second a sipping sound is made. This is considered inappropriate in most western countries, but in Japan it is acceptable. It means you have enjoyed the tea.
Participating in a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony is an enjoyable cultural experience and you get to make new friends .
It’s a shame you have to return the kimonos at the end of the session.