My foreign customers often ask me “What’s the purpose of the tea ceremony? or “ What occasions do you have tea ceremony?”.
These are the unique questions Japanese never ask, so I was struck by the questions at odd moments. Sometimes, it’s a little difficult to explain.
What occasions do you have tea ceremony?
Some foreign tourists think that all Japanese can perform the way of tea for sure and they imagine Japanese family have tea ceremony for wedding or birthday.
But it’s not true all Japanese can perform the way of tea. Since the only people who lean at teacher’s house or school can do the way of tea, we don’t have the custom to celebrate the family events by tea ceremony.
However, we can have the tea ceremony in any occasions if you want to. For wedding or birthday.. anytime is OK, It sounds really great.
What’s the purpose of the tea ceremony?
Why did you start learning tea ceremony? Why do you decide to continue it?
Maybe there are many reasons or answers if you ask to tea masters.
Many young women started leaning tea ceremony and Japanese flower arrangement before getting married about 30 years ago.
On the other hand, some people choose to learn as their time to relax and leave from the busy life or works nowadays like me, although it’s not so popular among young people compared to 30 years ago.
In any reason, I guess it’s true that all masters or students are looking forward to seeing the best utensils for the occasion or season, and meeting people in the tea ceremony.
Feeling season in a tea room
One day, one of the foreign tourists asked me seeing the sign board of “Sakura Tea Ceremony” in April, “What does it mean? Is it the traditional tea ceremony? Or the new tea gathering you have created?”
They thought tea ceremony is just the manner or tradition of the movement.
Even some Japanese think the purpose of learning tea ceremony is the studying of the manner on tatami mats simply.
However, tea ceremony is not only for the manner on tatami mats. It includes many Japanese cultures such as calligraphy, flowers, incense, kimono and so on.
In addition, the seasonal tea ceremony is not just the limited offer in the season for the sale. “Feeling season” has been the very import spirit of Japanese since over 1000 years ago.
It’s not too much to say Genji tale written or Makurano so-shi written in Heian period (794-1392) are the story describing Japanese beautiful seasons.
Since the men were allowed to see the lady’s face only through the bamboo screen in the noble family in Heian period, it was the custom for men to check the colors of lady’s Kimono, which little piece was out of the bamboo screen. They had thought that the lady who can choose the best colors for the season must be beautiful and knowledgeable.
Reference: “The dictionary of colors in Genji tale” Sachio Yoshioka
In this way, the spirit or custom to choose the best things for best season has been inherited among us Japanese as the important things.
It’s the reason why I offer the tea ceremony which changes according to the season in Tea Ceremony Koto.