Experience a Tea Ceremony
The art of Sadō (also called Cha no Yu) was codified by Master Sen no Riyku in the sixteenth century. A guest is invited into a specially-built tearoom called a chashitsu and is served powdered green tea called matcha. The tea ceremony helps the guest calm themselves and improve their understanding of etiquette.
Historically, the practice of inviting guests for tea was not uncommon. However, Master Sen no Rikyu incorporated the spirit of Zen Buddhism into the tea ceremony and placed great value on the concept of wabi - a term which describes the characteristically Japanese aesthetic of finding peace in simplicity.
Special utensils are used in the tea ceremony in order to experience this sense of wabi. Each tool is simple, refined and functional: the wooden hishaku for pouring the hot water, the bamboo chasen for whisking the matcha, the wooden chashaku for scooping the matcha. Of all the utensils, the porcelain tea bowl called the chawan is the most highly prized. The entire wabi aesthetic is epitomized by this tea bowl.
A genuine tea ceremony which expresses wabi is far from simple. There are detailed, long-established procedures governing everything from how to enter the tearoom to how to hold the tea bowl. The rules also cover what one should do and say after drinking the tea. Some people spend many years mastering these rules.
One phrase which captures the essence of the tea ceremony is ichigo-ichie. This phrase in Japanese means that every meeting is precious because it only happens once. As a guest who has come a long distance from another country, you may not know all of the rules. But please don’t worry. No one will blame you for not understanding some of the rules at first. We hope you can feel at ease and try experiencing the tea ceremony yourself.
Authentrip can arrange different kinds of tea ceremony experiences for you to suit your interests and itinerary – from a simple session of trying some matcha from a chawan tea bowl in a tatami room to the full-scale Cha no Yu ceremony in a purpose-built chashitsu. Please feel free to contact us so we can help you find the right tea ceremony experience for you.
If you’re concerned about sitting Japanese style (kneeling with the tops of your feet flat on the tatami mat) – please don’t worry! A lot of Japanese people have trouble with it too! You can sit on a subtle, low seat and still get the full experience of the tea ceremony.
One more piece of advice. There are more and more shops in tourist hotspots in Japan that are claiming to provide “tea ceremony” matcha tea. Merely drinking matcha and actually experiencing a real-life tea ceremony are, of course, completely different things. Note that the matcha used in a tea ceremony is somewhat bitter, rather than sweet. Freshly prepared matcha in a real tea ceremony has fine bubbles on its surface. When you get to Japan, please watch out for fake “tea ceremony” matcha and experience the genuine article with Authentrip.
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