Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A long way for a bowl of matcha 3

We were talking while viewing the garden from the waiting bench. In time, I caught a glimpse of a lady over the fences coming into the garden with a wooden pail. She walked to the stone basin and poured water from the pail. You would know by the sound of pouring water that your ceremony is about to start.

At the center of the picture above, do you find a medium-height simple gate made of bamboo? On the other side of the gate, there are the tea house and garden with the stone basin. The place in this picture is where the bench is located. The lady came to the gate signaling that we may enter. Before we did, we greeted each other first by squatting and bowing silently. We headed to the stone basin one by one and purified our hands and mouth with the water from it. Now it is the time to go to the tea room. We headed there by following the pass with stepping stones on it.

The entrance of the tea room is nijiriguchi, a crawl-through doorway. It is a very small opening that you have to crouch and crawl to get into the tea room. So I did. The tea room is very compact. It had some small windows and mild lights came through the paper screen on them. The first thing that attracted my eyes in the darkened room was the flowers and hanging scroll in the tokonoma (an alcove in a traditional Japanese room where art or flowers are displayed). The primitive and subdued material of walls and pillars seemed to enhance the flowers. Again, we sat on tatami-mats close to each other. The ceremony started with everyone taking a bow. The ceremony went along as almost the same as what we learned in our usual tea lessons. The only difference was that the host doesn’t have an assistant in our lesson. Here, the assistant took the role of talking with guests and managed the ceremony to go smoothly while the host was preparing the tea.

Finally, my tea was brought in front of me. It was a long way to reach this moment. It is different from just getting a cafe late in a paper cup at a casual coffee shop. In Sado, The Way of Tea, the facilities, utensils and hospitality are all involved to serve just a bowl of enchanting matcha. After I went through all the moment, I savored the tea in a superb tea bowl.

When we were leaving the house, we talked of how good the ceremony was. I especially liked the classy design of the tea house and garden.

We wanted to have lunch after the ceremony with our master. My wife and I had talked about the good places where we can take our master. She is an elderly lady so we thought she may not like greasy food. She probably likes traditional Japanese food. We had researched and picked some Japanese restaurants around the area. Before we got in our car, we actually asked her what she wanted to eat. She said “pizza”. “So, pizza it is!” So we went to a pizza restaurant in kimono (((o(*゜▽゜*)o))) Jah!

Photos of ...   (my past entries)

Waiting bench in tearoom garden

A stone basin in tea-house garden

Crawl-through doorway


  1. I was wondering, did you bring your own towel with you to dry your hands and mouth after you purified them at the stone basin? Or did you just let them dry in the air... or did the host provide a towel for you? I am wondering if I should get some kind of small towel for this purpose, because so far I have just been letting my hands dry in the air and hoping no one notices in case it is not the appropriate thing to do :P

    1. It’s a good question. I don’t know the appropriate manner about it. I believe that there was no towel provided from the host and I dried my hands with my handkerchief. I’ll ask my master about it, and let you know^^

    2. Hi!
      Today, I asked my master about it. She says that the host doesn’t usually provide a towel, so you should bring your own handkerchief with you to tea ceremonies (^^)

    3. Ah! It is not common for younger Americans (well, people your age!) to carry handkerchiefs. Now I know I should carry one. Thank you!