Next quarter I will have a course called the Japanese Traditional Arts, but impatient as I am, I already went to see (and participate in) the Tea Ceremony circle’s practice.
The circle gathers twice a week to practice the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Some of the members have been practicing for several years, and they still have a lot to learn and remember!
I tried to follow the ceremony rules as best as I could, though with the language barrier it was a bit challenging. I tried the okashi as well as the powdered matcha green tea, which was foamy and definitely not like your regular cup of lipton (not that I ordinarily would ever drink Lipton, but matcha was something quite unique).
The okashi (traditional sweets served before eating) was delicious sweet mochi. I have to admit, it was a bit of a challenge to get the mochi to my napkin with the chopsticks, since all the club members were staring and making notions of my left-handed work.
The tea ceremony had 2 tea drinkers besides me, then one person making the tea, another talking (apparently something about the tea and okashi), and third person was serving the okashi and tea. There was numerous bowing and cup turning – in my turn, I was supposed to bow to each and ask both my sempai (seniors) if they wanted to have my tea, and then ask the tea maker as well. Unfortunately I forgot the phrases as soon as I uttered them out.
I truly wish I spoke Japanese and would be able to understand the meanings of the ceremony – after few months the secrets will hopefully start revealing. Until then, I will drink my tea without any fuss of turning the cup around and bowing 14 times before drinking. Maybe next time I will understand what is happening and why – maybe one day I will get to foam my own tea as well.