The Japanese Tea Ceremony
The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu or sadō, chadō, while the manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae. Chadō is the ritual of preparing and serving green tea together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea.
Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony. Drinking matcha in a ritual ceremony started as part of a daily discipline by Zen monks. Rooted in Chinese Zen philosophy, the tea ceremony is a spiritual process, in which the participants seek inner peace and harmony.
The host invites guests to tea gathering, called a chaji or cha-kai. It takes place in a room, sparsely decorated with tatami mats. Chado is the ceremony to explore, discover, and appreciate the time and everything is done for the wellbeing and enjoyment of the guests. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture.
Shizu-Kokoro is a school that teaches Chado. They are licensed by the Urasenke Chado School in Kyoto, one of the largest Chado schools in the world. The workshop lasts around 90 minutes and it is designed to introduce the basic aspects of chado (the way of tea) as well to provide an experience in an authentic tea room. They are conveniently located near Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa area in Tokyo.
Instructor Mika (Soka) Haneishi
Ms. Mika Haneishi, whose tea name is “Soka,” has over twenty years of “Chado” experience. She studied “The Way of Tea” under Mme. Sosei Matsumoto, who was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in the United States. Ms. Mika Haneishi is a 1st-degree instructor of the Urasenke School of Chado, the largest Chado school in the world. She teaches beginner to advanced classes for students in Japan. She also established the Shizu-Kokoro Chado School in Asakusa, Tokyo to introduce this unique culture to foreigners, and she organizes Chado workshops and seminars for international audiences.
The Way Of Tea
Chado is not about just drinking matcha tea; chado is a ceremony requiring years of practice and discipline to master. Also requires becoming appreciative of things around you, including hospitality, art, nature, and precious moments with people. The ultimate goal of chado is to achieve enlightenment through the discipline of the mind.
When we arrived at Shizu-Kokoro School we were warmly greeted by Mika. She offered us a cup of cherry-blossom tea and showed us a 10-minute introduction video that introduces chado to first time participants. After that, we went to the tea room where the workshop took place. The tea room was very minimalistic, decorated with seasonal flowers and a hanging scroll placed on a wall with words inherited by Zen monks.
Mika began with a 20-minute tea ceremony in which we observed this special art, enjoyed Japanese sweets, matcha tea (koicha), and learned about the procedure and the utensils and tea bowls used in the ceremony.
After that was our turn. We learned how to make a bowl of matcha tea and serve the tea to a guest. The workshop lasted another 45 minutes and Mika explained every detail. The whole experience was very educated and we learned a lot of interesting things. We tried two kinds of matcha tea called Koicha and Usucha and three kinds of Japanese sweets or confections.
Chado is a spiritual discipline which teaches us how to slow down, connect with nature, and become aware of the small but very important things in life. Cha means “Tea” and Do means “path” or “way.” So, chado can be translated as “The Way of Tea.”
Wa – Kei – Sei – Jyaku. These are the most basic and important teachings in Chado.
– Wa is “Harmony.” Always keep in mind to make harmony with others.
– Kei is “Respect.” That is to have respect for everything including people, nature and all living things.
– Sei is “Pure.” Not only physically, but the mind should be pure.
– Jyaku is “Stability or Tranquility.” That is to strive to train not to be emotional but rather tranquil.
Tea gatherings in Chado are not to conduct a performance, it is a collaborated work which everybody in the room cooperates to create a precious experience.
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OurWorldTravelSelfies would like to thank Mika for welcoming this review. The opinion is as always, my own. Photos are courtesy of Our World Travel Selfies.