Kitanotenmangu shrine has 2 tea rooms, which have tea ceremony every month. One is Sho-ko-ken tea room, the other one is Meigetsu-sha.
I’d like to introduce “Sho-ko-ken” today.
It is held in every second Sundays, but it is third Sunday only in January because most people are enjoying New Year’s holiday with family in the beginning of January in Japan.
Japanese Tea room; Sho-ko-ken
This tea room “Sho-ko-ken” was originally built by Hosokawa Sansai when Toyotomi Hideyoshi(1537-1598), the strongest samurai in those days had held the big tea ceremony in Kitanotenmangu shrine. The building in existence here was rebuilt afterword.
Sho means pine tree, and Ko means looking at, and ken means small house or room. It was originally built beside a spiritual pine tree, that is said a soul of the god in this shrine, Sugawarano Michizane come back on the first snowing day in the year. It’s on the left side of the front gate.
Actually, same name tea room “Sho-ko-ken” is in Ko-to-in, Daitokuji temple, which is the most famous temple for tea ceremony in Japan. It’s the tea room transferred from the original in Kitano tanmangu-shrine in 1628. Ko-to-in has the grave of Hosokawa Sansai, who built original Sho-ko-ken.
The parking area and the main building in the shrine were crowded in Sunday. It is not only the people joining tea ceremony. I guess everyone came to pray for the good luck of this year or the entrance exam. It is famous shrine as the god of learning.
A Waiting room
There is a waiting room called “Yoritsuki” besides the main tea room. We check the bag and coat here like a clerk in the hotel, and pay entrance fee. It’s better to use Japanese square cloths “furoshiki” to wrap all your belongings. And I used a Japanese traditional small cloth “kobukusa” to cover the new note without cockles when I paid the fee. It’s tradition of payment for tea ceremony.
I have rarely met the tourists in the tea ceremony held in temple or shrines in Kyoto. We usually come with teachers or senior friends if it’s first time to join. If you’d like to join such tea ceremonies alone, I think it’s might be better to learn the way to drink light tea in the beginners’ class like my tea house “Tea Ceremony Koto”.
We often see Japanese paintings in the waiting room. It was dancing monkey wearing kimono painted by a famous female artist Shoen(1875-1949), who had painted many beautiful women wearing kimono. It was like beautiful woman even though the face was monkey.
After the preparation, we moved to the main tea room.
Tea Ceremony in January
We often see the big gorgeous shelf in the New Year. This is Jo-o- shelf with 2 doors made of paper under and 4 pillars made of lacquer on it. The name came from a tea master Takeno Jo-o-(1502-1555), from whom Senno Rikyu learned the way of tea.
There is a flatter fresh water container on the right under side. It’s the shape of a crooked plum flower, which is often used with this shelf because it must be short height. In addition, we often put a Japanese pencil box made of lacquer or something on the top for the decoration. But it was the ornament of monkey, the zodiac of 2016 today.
Powdered green tea and sweets made by the shop near Kitanotanmangu “Oimatsu” were both really delicious. The design of the sweet was Tancho-crane, which often used for New Year’s tea ceremony as the lucky bird.
＊Although we usually can’t take any photos in a tea room, I asked the master after the tea ceremony she would mind if I take photos and insert on my blog. I appreciate her kindness to allow me to write about her tea ceremony on the web site.
We also have more formal tea ceremony all of the guests must wear kimono. In that case, we can’t take photos for sure. Let’s enjoy the traditional quiet atmosphere in a tea room with other guests.
Anyway, my tea house, Tea Ceremony Koto is especially for tourists and beginners, so you can enjoy taking photos of tea utensils!