Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The first tea gathering in Matsuo style

The first tea gathering we joined was Matsuo family tradition style in a proper tea room. It was an only proper tea room in the building. Other gatherings were held in ordinary tatami rooms or conference rooms. The tea room was not an outside individual tea house. It was on the third floor in the building, and had an alley leading to the room. The alley had a little waiting space. We waited there until our tea ceremony was ready. Twelve guests got in the tea room (*six-mat room). The room was not big or bright. It was kind of crowded. Another party joined in the same gathering was a group from a tea school, I believe. Most of them wore kimono and knew the manners for the guest. The ceremony began with a bow by all participants. As the host was preparing tea, a host’s assistant did greeting and had some conversations with guests. The assistant explained about the flowers, art, sweets and some other utensils used in this ceremony. In the meantime, the sweets were served, and the tea for the main guest was ready. Usually at most tea ceremonies, the host prepares the teas for only a couple of the primary guests. The teas for the rest of the guests are usually prepared in a preparation room, and assistants bring into the tea room and serve them. It is done as the same in this ceremony. An assistant came to me, and placed my bowl in front of me. I received it with a bow. I had the bowl of tea with the manner that I learned in the lessons. The tea was just okay. I loved the tea in our lessons better (^_^;) After **viewing the tea bowls used for the main and second guests, the ceremony was over. My impression was that the ceremony was rapid. It was much faster than I expected. I guess it is because most of participants were experienced, so the ceremony went very smooth and quick. The whole ceremony was done in 20-30 minutes. It was shorter than our temae at the lessons.

I could not notice any big difference between Matsuo (this tea ceremony) and Omote-senke (what I’m learning) in temae. I think I was kind of nervous, and busy following my procedure for a guest. I hope as I do more practice and have more experience, I will be more relaxed and enjoy tea ceremonies.

*In Japan, a size of rooms is usually defined with a number of tatami mats. The dimensions of a tatami mat are about 90*180cm.
**At tea ceremony, premium tea bowls are used only for primary guests. Sometimes, the tea bowls are passed on to the rest of guest, and give them a chance to admire the bowls.

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