Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hatsu-gama, the first tea ceremony of the year

It has been about a half year since we started learning from the current master.

The first tea ceremony of the year is called “hatsu-gama”.  Our master invited all of her disciples in it.  She requested us to wear kimonoHatsu-gama is different from the costmary lessons, which is a little more formal than usual. 

The two biggest differences from usual were that our master did the hosting, and meals were served. 

At usual lessons, we, disciples play a role of the host and serve tea to other students.  Our master sits next to us and just tells us what to do.  She sometimes shows examples of each action, but I have never seen her hosting an entire ceremony.  This was my first time to observe her serving.  I gazed ate her every single movement, because I wanted to learn something out of it.   I was especially impressed with her action for handling fukusa, silk cloth.  It was graceful and gentle.

We don’t have meals in our usual lessons, but meals are often served at some formal tea ceremonies.  At this hatsu-gama, a meal in a box was served for each guest.  I could tell that our master took a lot of time to prepare this meal, which was a traditional New Year dish.  Six guests enjoyed the meal over having some chitchast and talking about the meal.  I kind of experienced harmony and bonding in the tea room at noon of a fine winter Sunday.   I think it is probably the essence of The Way of Tea.

I truly enjoyed hatsu-gama.  I was happy celebrating the New Yare with our master and my peers in the special ceremony.  I realized again that experiences are important.

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