Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tea Ceremony

After our walk through the fish market we made our way to a rather fancy hotel (all the staff were wearing kimono!) for a tea ceremony. I didn't take any pictures of the main ceremony, as it felt a little rude. The tea "house" is on the seventh floor. This outdoor garden is behind glass and a stone path and bamboo fence lined "garden" is the indoor entryway. The pebbles are ment to look like a stream.

The ceremony started with sweets served in two courses to all the guest. The hostess intsructed all us gaijin how to take, bow, pass the plate and eat with all the appropriate rei.

She then cleaned the implements, filled the tea bowl with matcha, pored the water, and wisked the tea powder with flair, grace, and robot like precison. The finished product was thick as salsa and rather hard to gulp down. But the process was beautiful.

We then moved to a very low slung room (pictured) for a second cup of tea, appearently a more kyoto style dig. I do like the hot pot set in the floor, but it's not hard to see why fires were such a problem in old times...

This scroll hung in the alcove, appearently something about the "sound of the wind in the pines" which is the preferred phrase to describe hot water boiling. The alcove also housed one of the new years offerings. A platform with small rolls of rice, a tradition harkening back to the days that rice was used in lieu of money.

There is also a bunch of long willow branches called "hair willow" draped across. The're supposed to bring longevity.

Sitting in seiza can really hurt after a little while though!

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