Thursday, 18th September 2014
In Events In Japan,
Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony
Indulging in a tea ceremony is about as quintessentially Japanese as you can get. The complex etiquette and method of preparing the tea is a fascinating process to observe and a joy to undertake yourself.
However, the most traditional and authentic of these ceremonies are cut off for many international visitors, requiring you to already know someone in attendance in order to enjoy the complex rituals that surround "the way of the tea".
Thankfully, this is not the case with the Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony, which takes place annually in the Japanese capital during a weekend at the end of September.
The event, which occurs in the beautiful surrounds of the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum in Koganei-shi, is open to all and receives interest from a heady mix of international visitors and locals.
For those who cannot make this year's September 27th and 28th ceremony, there will be an alternate event on the weekend of October 11th that will allow you to immerse yourself in the Sado, or tea-making, culture. This will take place in the Hama-rikyu Gardens in Chuo-ku, Tokyo.
If you're anxious about making a faux pa during your first Japanese tea ceremony, there is no need to fear as people are generally understanding and the rituals themselves are quite straightforward.
Tea ceremonies are classed depending on how formal or informal they are, with the chakai being a more casual affair while kimonos are most definitely required for the chaji, which can last up to four hours. The events open to international visitors are much more likely to be the more casual chakai.
Anywhere is suitable for a Japanese tea ceremony, although you will find they usually take place outside or in a purpose-built tatami-floored room. The procedures vary not only from school to school but also from year to year and depending on the season, so it's impossible to anticipate what you may have to do and in what order.
However, guests generally prepare by discarding coats and other unwanted items, drinking a small cup of hot water and sharing a silent bow with the host. Every action carried out during the ceremony - how a kettle is used, how a teacup is examined, how tea is scooped into a cup - is performed in a very specific way.
In the most formal occasions, a guest of honour will be in attendance and will conduct some of the rituals. You may also be served a light meal.
If you're interested in attending this most Japanese of ceremonies, consider turning up at the Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony on either of the dates available.