Friday, June 6, 2014

A Friend from Singapore

Meeting a new friend
Once I received a mail from one of my blog readers. He asked me if I knew any place where he can take a week of intense course to learn the tea ceremony during his trip to Japan. I didn’t know any, so I offered to serve him a bowl of tea if he can visit me. Here he came from Singapore last weekend! 

I found out that the tea room where I had tea the other day at our town festival is a city’s property and anybody from the area can rent it. It’s a small thatched hut and perfect for holding a private tea gathering for us.

Exclusive tea ceremony
From the preparation room, I heard that he and other two guests got in the room from the crawl-through doorway. Then, I opened the door of the host’s entrance and I saw him sitting nicely with his settled posture. The room was filled with a comfortable light from the paper windows and a bit of tension. Maybe it is because of the classic tatami room, utensils and me wearing kimono. The proper arrangement of The Way of Tea has some kind of magical effect to create the special atmosphere. I felt his gaze once I started preparing tea. With his both hands, he carefully held the bowl, which I served. As if he was trying to make sure of every essence of the tea, he thoroughly relished the bowl sip by sip. At the moment, we were isolated. There might have been some sounds of car outside but I didn’t hear them. I concentrated into the moment just for us. I cleaned the utensils as usual and left the room. I could see his fascination and excitement in his smile after the ceremony. I felt certain that he truly enjoyed this gathering. We went back in the tea room again and spent a relaxing moment, taking pictures and telling how to prepare matcha. Then, he served a bowl of tea for me. It was so much fun.

Limit of words
Once I saw a TV program about sado (The Way of Tea). An instructor explained reasons why we do this or that in the ceremony. His words didn’t appeal to my mind. The grand master of our school says that there are reasons for every single movement in the ceremony but he doesn’t like to give the explanation for everything. When I started learning sado, I wanted to know those reasons. But now, I’m kind of getting what the grand master was saying. Words cannot describe everything and even create a limit on things. When you watch a Picasso drawing or listen to a Mozart symphony, you don’t need someone’s explanation. You just feel and discern it, then you will find an overwhelming sensation. If you try to express it in words, it loses its profoundness. 

I and the friend from Singapore were together only for a half day but we could get on personal terms. It is because of the tea ceremony and the benefit of it. It’ll be vain if I say it in words that the tea ceremony is to escape from daily life and enjoy the fellowship. However, I’m sure that he realized the reason after experiencing it why Japanese do the tea ceremony. He mailed me a short massage the next day, “Words cannot describe my gratitude for a perfect day.” I totally understand what he means. 


  1. That sounds like a wonderfully enlightening experience. I am envious!

    1. Come and visit me, and we’ll serve you tea!

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