September 15, 2008

Mito Kairakuen Kobuntei tea ceremony

Kobuntei is an old villa within Kairakuen park. Kobuntei was build by a Samurai named Tokugawa Nariyaki as his summer villa. This Kobuntei villa is still in very good shape and open to the public for about two hundred Yen on normal (event less days) . Yesterday I attended a Japanese tea ceremony Chakai within the villa hosted by the Omotesenke school of tea. It was such a great tea ceremony because from the Kobuntei we could see the full moon rising above the trees while sipping a delicious cup of tea. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the Kobuntei villa and the full moon turning yellower as the minutes went by, that I hardly paid any attention to the Temae performed by an experienced tea ceremony teacher. the sweets which came with the tea were really delicious but I still regret leaving my camera at home...
My own teacher was with me while enjoying the full moon rising and she told me that on every first Sunday of the month there is a tea ceremony at the Kobuntei. If I had known that I would probably have been there more often to enjoy the Japanese tea ceremony.

Tea ceremony in Mito city, Ibaraki prefecture Japan

Yesterday I enjoyed three different styles of the Japanese tea ceremony, the first one was Enshuryu, the second one was Edosenke and finally Omotesenke.
At Kairaku-en in Mito city there are various open-air tea ceremony events throughout the year. One of these events is during the plum harvesting season and the other one was yesterday. Yesterday's open-air Japanese tea ceremony was held to celebrate the new full moon. Various schools of tea gather their members and setup their ware to entertain guests with the Japanese tea ceremony. I would say that it is almost for free, it was eight hundred yen to attend three tea ceremonies. I guess this small amount would not even cover the cost for the sweets we ate, because they were quite good quality. At a meeting like this it is a great opportunity to see different styles and how they differ in their movements and the order in which the various tea utensils are cared for. As I am a student of the Omotesenke school of tea, I learned many things to improve my Temae just by watching others prepare a cup of tea for me. For those of you living in Japan in or around Ibaraki prefecture I'd really recommend you find out when the next open-air tea ceremony event is held and come over to have a cup of green-tea.

September 14, 2008

the Japanese tea ceremony preparation steps

For a student of the Japanese tea ceremony it might take years of practice to learn how to prepare a bowl of tea without thinking. The goal is to serve a bowl of tea from the heart and not from the mind. This is only possible when practicing at least once a week but preferably a couple of times a week. There are quite a few steps one has to go through to be able to serve a bowl of tea to the guests. Here's a link to the start page of the Japanese tea ceremony preparation steps. For a more detailed description of all the steps needed to prepare a bowl of tea: detailed steps for the Japanese tea ceremony. this page will provide you with many details for every step toward serving a bowl of tea. At this moment there is only a description for hakobi temae during the summer season where the Furo is used. soon this website will be updated with descriptions of hakobi temae during the winter season where the Ro or sunken hearth is used.
If you are looking for some more visual inspiration, have a look at some videos of the Japanese tea ceremony

I have been practicing for some years now but due to circumstances I have not been able to attend my tea ceremony classes every month. This results in a quite clumsy preparation of the tea, since I really have to use my head and think hard about the next step I have to perform. But the website with detailed explanations of the preparation steps really helps when I read it just before going to my tea ceremony class.

September 08, 2008

Yobanashi tea ceremony

 Last week I went to my regular Japanese tea ceremony lesson after work. By the time i reached my teacher`s place, the sun was already setting. One of the students who was there offered to make me some Koicha thick tea to get me into the mood of the tea ceremony after a hard day`s work. My tea ceremony teacher asked if I thought it was necessary to turn the light on but I felt quite relaxed in the darkness of the tea room. When the tea utensils were being brought into the room, we noticed it was actually too dark to prepare a bowl of tea. My tea teacher rushed to get a small light to place near the Temae-za. Just this small light next to the Tana created such a wonderful atmosphere. I felt the taste of the Koicha became much more intense since I couldn't see what was in the Chawan. I realized that this was actually the first time that I had done a Japanese tea ceremony at night.
 Next, it was my turn to make Usucha for the other students. I wanted to saviour this wonderful opportunity and please my guests as much as i could. I provided everyone with a Zabuton and two different kinds of sweets, Wagashi and Omogashi. I performed the tea ceremony with total devotion to my movements and a perfect balance of Matcha and Oyu (hot water). All complimented me afterwards on my style and the great taste of the tea. It seemed everyone including me was pleased.
 So, Yobanashi is a variety of the Japanese tea ceremony which is usually held in winter when the sun starts setting very early and the tea ceremony can be enjoyed with a small candle light to create a warm atmosphere in the cold winter months.