Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An aged man in a tea ceremony

A middle-aged man, in his mid 50's was standing at the entrance of a tea room, looking as if he did not know what to do.  None of the staff were present, since they were all at the back.  The man wanted to ask if the next ceremony will be the one for his ticket.  He is skinny and simple, and he was not even wearing kimono.  He wore just checkered shirt and a pair of trousers.  I saw this man at the tea ceremony I attended yesterday.  

The tea ceremonies were held at Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum.
One of the ceremonies held in their tea house.
This is the tea house.

The man finally found a staff member and got in the room.  Me and all other guests, about 15-20 people, had been already in the room.  We could see the man from our seat.  The man moved to the last position and seated.  Soon after, one of the guests asked him to sit at the seat for the main guest.  The main guest, who should be an expert and experienced in tea ceremonies, represents the whole body of the guests and he converses with the host.   Usually, at huge ceremonies like this, the guests choose from the members or rather wait for someone to reluctantly volunteer to be the main guest.  However, this man without hesitation accepted the offer with humility and moved to the position.

This ceremony was for koicha, a thick tea, which is considered more formal than usucha, a thin tea.  I was quite excited for koicha and little nervous at the same time.  The aged man was totally calm on his seat.  He looked poised.  The host entered in the room and started preparing tea.  The man flawlessly greeted and spoke with the host.   While he was having a warm chat with the host, he took time to smile and gestured to the other guests.  He is very knowledgeable about tea utensils but at the same time imposing an amazing humility on this expertise as he willingly shared his skills to the other guests. 

At tea ceremonies, there are some people who wear kimono and have an obvious aura of master.  However, this presenile man doesn’t have that kind of arrogance.  He appeared to be just an ordinary man.  However with his wisdom and fine gestures, everyone could tell the he is a very experienced tea person.  I think not many of the guests expected that he would be an expert when he was standing at the entrance of the tea room.  I was impressed on his humble attitude and simplicity.   I definitely want to be like him when the time comes and I get his age.  Looks can be deceiving indeed. This man seemed so simple and common, but skills and knowledge inside shimmer like gold.

When I left the tea house, I saw him walking alone toward another site of a tea ceremony.  I wonder how many people he can amaze again with his splendid expertise on this wonderful tea day.

The tea room after the ceremony

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum (Japanese) >>> http://www.pref.aichi.jp/touji/top.html


  1. I wish I could meet this cool guy. :)

    1. I would like also to meet him again someday (^^)

  2. Yes, outward appearances can often change the perceptions we make of people, discoloring our abilities to look deeper at what other layers a person may have. It is only one part of the whole. I find it best to think of people as onions; their clothing, hairstyle, jewelry, face, posture, voice, the words they say, gestures they make, all are part of what makes them themselves.

    1. He-he, Onion! That’s grate (^-^) As you get old, you can have more layers and can be better onion.