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Chakai (Tea ceremony)

Serving a bowl of tea and reaching out to the guests. In Japan, Chakai (Tea ceremony) is held to create a bond between the participants.

Hello everyone, how are you doing?  So today’s theme is Chakai (Tea ceremony) for which I’ve never attended such official tea parties though, so I have to ask a friend of mine who knows it very well.

What’s Chakai (Tea ceremony)?

At a formal tea ceremony, guests first pass through the garden to reach the tea house. Before entering, they pause at a shelter fitted with a bench and enjoy the view of the garden.

This allows them to put themselves in the right frame of mind for the tea ceremony ahead.

Chakai (Tea ceremony)

As they walk through the garden, the guests reach the tsukubai, a stone water basin. Here, they rinse their hands and mouths, purifying both body and spirit before entering the tea room.

The guests enter the tea house through a very low and narrow entrance called the nijiri-guchi.

The host isn’t in the room yet, but the process of wecoming the guests has already begun.

A decorative scroll hanging in the alcove is a sign of welcome. And in a vase beside the scroll is a sprig of blossom, in this case, it’s ume. From these seasonal decorations, the guests can feel and appreciate the thought that the host has put into them.

Confections are served before the tea. Tasting this morsel of sweetness before drinking the tea serves to accentuate the flavour of the tea itself.

And then it’s time for the host to prepare the tea. The powdered green tea, matcha, is mixed with hot water. A bamboo tea whisk called chasen is used.

Now, the tea is ready. Using a single bowl and passing it from one guest to the next is called nomi-mawashi. By shring the same tea bowl, the participants can feel a sense of closeness.

In the world of the tea ceremony, there is a saying, “Ichii-go ichi-e” meaning “Treasure every encounter”. Each tea gathering is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

That is why the host demonstrates the utmost consideration for the guests, and they reciprocate. This spirit is still very much alive in this day and age.

Once a year, a large-scale tea gathering is held at this primary school. The children prepare tea for their family members whom they invited as guests.

This is a way for the children to express their gratitude. And by getting hands-on experience in the tea ceremony, the children at this school become acquainted with the spirit of heartfelt hospitality.

About the author

立 資樺騎(Shigeki Ryu)