I'm embarrassed to say that in the four years I have been in Tokyo, I have never been to a Japanese tea ceremony. When I was at the kimono event last tuesday, I was able to watch a woman do a tea ceremony demonstration and I loved it. So I decided to go along to one on sunday morning, held at a special traditional Japanese house used specifically for tea ceremonies.
The charcoal for heating the water is carefully selected and configured in a pre-determined arrangement.
The hot charcoals are then placed in an earthenware pot.
The teapot is placed over the heated charcoal which sits in a bed of ash designed to look like sand dunes. The theme of the month was bamboo, and the water pot to the right depicts a bamboo forest.
As each attendee comes into the room, they kneel at the door of the tea room, bow and then slide forward on their knees, with their fan placed on the mat in front of them. They make their way to the arrangement at the front of the room and bow to it. This month's theme was bamboo, so the flower pot to the left was a bamboo pot.
The attendees kneel on the tatami mat floor in front of the server.
Note the little red block behind them - that was for me to place my bottom on!
The server then goes through the motions of preparing the tea. It is beautiful to watch. Note the teacher behind, watching what she does. There is so much to remember and the teacher was there to remind her what to do.
Before the tea is served, Japanese sweets are served to counteract the bitterness of the green tea. These were in the shape of leaves with a bean paste centre and dealt out using bamboo chopsticks. We each took it in turn to take a piece and bow to the server as we did, followed by an appreciation to her of the sweet we were eating. This was followed by a thick green tea. We took it in turns to drink from the same bowl. Afterwards, we had to show our appreciation of the tea, the bowl and cloth that the tea was served on.