Sunday, November 17, 2013

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be able to experience another Japanese cultural event, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, with the English students at Hokusei High School. (Last spring I participated in the kanji calligraphy workshop with these girls and wrote about it here.)

These students are preparing to study abroad for a school year and hold these events to practice telling about Japanese culture in English. I was very flattered when I first arrived at the school and one table of girls chose me to join them.  They said they remembered me from the last event and described the “handmade” necklace I was wearing.  (I checked the photos and saw that it was one of the bead and cross stitch on perforated paper necklaces).

The girls are just as cute as they can be.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how excited they are to be going to the US to study.  Exactly where they will be going is yet to be decided, but they told me they are going for ten months. When I asked if they are going for the school year, they said no, ten months. When I told them the school year for most schools is August – May (ten months) instead of April – March as it is in Japan, they told me Americans get big vacations.  Some of the things they are looking forward to doing in the United States are: going to prom, joining the cheer dance team, and going to the hamburger shop and eating a big hamburger with friends.  They have exciting adventures ahead.

The tea ceremony was first demonstrated by the tea ceremony teacher and her two assistants.

Afterward the demonstration, the girls and their guest made tea for each other and had a delicious Japanese sweet to eat. Members of the Tea Ceremony Club were on hand to give each table help and advice.

I know that women study and practice for years to master the tea ceremony, but I enjoyed my little “taste” of how it is done.  The tea cups are really beautiful bowls. One and a half of these tea spoons of green tea is put in the cup and hot water is added.



The bamboo tea whisk is used to mix the tea and to create a froth on top. First the whisk goes in a circle around the cup, then back and forth, before removing the whisk straight up so the froth stays in the middle. When it was my turn to make the tea, the girls told me I was a good froth maker.   The tea maker then presents the tea cup to the tea drinker.

The tea drinker turns the cup, and drinks the entire cup in three swallows. The girls told me that between the three drinks, the drinker shows her delicious face. When she finishes drinking, she says the tea was delicious.

The girls adore their English teacher, who coordinates these events, and it’s plain to see that he enjoys them also. 

Thank you, Hokusei High School English Students!


Margaret said...

What fun you had. I took lessons in tea ceremony for about six months - under duress from my Japanese friend. She required me to dress in kimono and sit in the floor for each lesson so both willpower and knees gave way!

Queeniepatch said...

I see a good time was had by all. I guess there are fewer and fewer people taking practising the tea ceremony and not many opportunities to take part as a guest either. However macha is gaining popularity and you can have it as a milky drink- green tea cocoa!