Japanese Tea Ceremony during Furo Season

Japan Association of the Tea Ceremony / Japanese Tea Ceremony during Furo Season A Japanese tea ceremony involves inviting people to calmly enjoy a cup of Matcha Japanese green powdered tea. A Cha-no-yu is a formal gathering. Three to five people are invited to have tea. It is usually an intimate gathering, with only one person invited at times. Two bowls of tea are served, one strong and one thin. In order to enjoy the strong tea to the fullest, it is served with a light Kaiseki meal. Following the meal, boiling water is prepared by adding charcoal to the Furo brazier. The strong tea is prepared in a solemn atmosphere. The guests pass around the single bowl of tea. There is great significance in everyone taking turns to drink from the same bowl. Following the first bowl of strong tea, is the second bowl of thin tea. For this part of the ceremony, a bowl of tea is prepared for each guest. The tea utensils are brought out and arranged, then rearranged in an easy-to-use order. The utensils are purified before using to prepare the tea. When the host is done serving the tea, the utensils are returned to their original place. The tea ceremony is comprised of these four key steps. The act of purifying the utensils in front of the guests, involves a spiritual aspect. The host calms their soul while purifying the utensils, and puts their entire heart into preparing the tea. The guests also watch the hosts’ simple movements, to spiritually prepare themselves for drinking the tea. The host must move unobtrusively, to not upset the guests’ mind. The utensils, are also a part of welcoming the guests. The host must make them come alive, to please the guests both visually and spiritually. The tea ceremony proceeds, while the host continues slowly keeping an eye on the guests. The bowls are warmed before pouring in the tea. Does the guest prefer the tea a little strong? Or should it be prepared thinner if they are thirsty? While preparing the tea, the host thinks about the individual being served. The guests also notice the hosts’ sincerity, and feels the hosts’ open heart while watching the process. To welcome a guest with a single bowl of tea, in a small space called a Chaseki, does not involve just preparing and drinking tea. Both host and guest spend the same time in tranquility, respecting each other while communicating spiritually, in peace, together. Guests who are welcomed with such an open heart, invite the host to their house on another occasion. Such time spent repeatedly welcoming and being welcomed, valuing the interaction between people, is the world of the Japanese tea ceremony. Credits: Santokuan Foundation

Michael Martin

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