What does Chaji mean?
Many people think that tea ceremony is just making and drinking matcha powdered green tea with special formalities. But Japanese tea ceremony is actually a comprehensive art form that encompasses a wide range of fields such as art, flower arrangement, architecture and gardening, kaiseki traditional cuisine, and confectionery. "Chaji" refers to a formal tea ceremony entertaining guests with kaiseki, thick tea called koicha and a thinner kind of tea called usucha.
You can feel this true spirit of hospitality in a tea house near Himeji. An associate professor with knowledge of chaji will teach you all about the tea ceremony - including table manners, how to appreciate a tea room and even how to walk into the room. The tea house is equipped so that guests enjoy the tea ceremony as a comprehensive art form. In addition, this tea room was designed to accommodate people who are not used to sitting on a tatami mat too.
A Kaiseki Cuisine Experience
One of the highlights of your day will be eating kaiseki served as part of this formal tea gathering. You can see a unique way of cooking rice in a kind of kettle over the hearth in the tea room. Try to make a charcoal fire using a bamboo blowpipe to cook the rice. When it is ready, enjoy beautiful kaiseki using seasonal ingredients with the cooked rice.
Special Tea for the Ceremony - Both Thick and Thin
Koicha is made by kneading tea powder with a small amount of hot water. You may be surprised at just how thick it is. Try to appreciate its aroma and rich texture.
Lastly, you will make usucha, a weaker tea, by yourself. Enjoy the creamy flavor of the tea with the foam on the surface.
As an optional extra, you can make Japanese sweets or attend the tea gathering wearing a kimono. A program rich in content like this is quite rare. Even if you are a beginner, this is a great opportunity to try a special Chaji in Himeji!