Although some Japanese people have the strict and inaccessible image for tea ceremony, we have many points to enjoy tea ceremony as it is called “comprehensive art” including Japanese cultures. I know most people tend to think simply it is powdered green tea and sweets, so I would like to introduce other important points for tea ceremony.
Seeing the calligraphy and flowers on the alcove
Entering a tea room, first we sit in front of the alcove to see the hanging scroll and flowers. The calligraphy is thought to be the most important utensil in a tea room because it is message from the host and decides the combination of other utensils. Sometimes it’s difficult to read even for Japanese, but let’s read the feelings or atmosphere of the writing. It’s also interesting to see the picture frame with traditional quilts. When I encounter the old books in the museum, I always watch the color contrasts and patterns of its frame.
Flowers are decorated besides the hanging scroll. They are only the living in a tea room. Senno Rikyu who is the founder of tea ceremony said “put flowers in a container as there are in a field naturally.” We can feel the seasons from them. Not only flowers, but also the vase is worth looking at. The atmosphere will be changed by the material such as fresh green bamboo, old bamboo, or potteries.
Watching the utensils – tea bowls
Guests who are learning tea ceremony are looking forward to see the tea utensils for sure because they are selected by a host only for this tea ceremony. Tea utensils changes according to the seasons and might be made by very famous artists in Japan. An iron kettle, a tea shelf, a fresh water container, a water kettle, a tea container, a tea scoop, a tea whisk, a incense box..etc. All of them are handmade by professional craftsman for each utensil, only for bamboo crafts, only for iron kettle. Even if it is a simple black tea bowls, not all the same. The size, shape, touch of the surface is different from each tea bowls. Even cherry blossoms have many types of scenery. For example, full blooming double flowered cherry, modest drooping ones, or floating petals on the river. During the quiet tea ceremony with a little tense, we can feel the delicate atmosphere from the utensils. I guess the most familiar utensil is tea bowls for the guests. Let’s watch the designs of the tea bowls after drinking!
Watching the way of tea
A bow, the way of walking, the position of hands, movement of fingers, the position of utensils, and speed..it’s not only whisking powdered green tea. Even if the same tea utensils are used, the atmosphere will be different from each host. Even if the same host performs, the feelings of the day might reflect on the way of tea. Sometimes tea ceremony is said to be “the theater without words”. The guests will receive the different feelings by the actions.
Of course we can buy tea and sweets in the convenience stores quickly, but I think we can feel calm and relaxing by seeing the process of making tea. We can feel that it was only for me this one tea bowl was served. I can always feel I am treated with a warm welcome in a tea room.
Teat “only one utensil” with great care.―Tea container& Tea scoop
A tea container and a tea scoop are often showed after the way of tea. Please don’t flip them to confirm its materials, but touch them with great care as you treat your important person.
The main guest will ask questions to the host after the way of tea. What’s the name of this scoop? Who made it? Although a lot of beginners are surprised to hear that tiny bamboo shaped like an ear pick has name, each utensils are made by professional craft men or artists. Hearing the poetic name or Zen Buddhism teaching words, we can imagine the beautiful sceneries or remember the grateful lessons.
Tea containers used for the way of tea in Tea Ceremony Koto are all made of wood and lacquer, not plastic. Let’s touch the real one and feel the atmosphere for the once in a life time experience.
Escape from the daily life with disposable things and Teat the “only one” with great care.
It’s the time for you to feel warm and peace.