Written by National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter Michie Omoto
From Byodo-in Temple walking along the Uji river on the Ajirogi-no-michi street for a few minutes, you will find the Uji Tourist Information Center (Uji Shi Kanko Center). Buy a ticket here for the Taihoan Tea House to learn about the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony.
You can enjoy the tea ceremony in a large tatami mat room.
The kimono-clad staff politely shows you how to bow, how to hold your cup and how to sip tea. The instructor says that they prepare thoroughly for every occasion to entertain the guests. After selecting a theme for the day’s ceremony, utensils are chosen, arrange flowers of the season and decorate the Tokonoma (the alcove) with a scroll that matches the season. All these preparations express the feeling of hospitality towards the customer.
First, seasonal Japanese sweets are served. Use the bamboo skewer to enjoy it.
The staff bows and serves you tea. You bow in return and say ‘otemae itadakimasu’ . The phrase express your gratitude to all those who made this delicious tea.
When the tea bowl is placed in front of you with its front facing you, you pick it up with your right hand and place it on your left palm. With your right hand, turn it clockwise by around 90 degrees so that its front is not facing you. Drink few sips, wipe the edge of the bowl with your fingers and turn it anticlockwise so that the front faces you again.
In a tea ceremony with a table & chair setting you can experience making tea as a host.
Take a closer look at what the instructor does step by step. You will be amazed by the elegant manner she conduct herself. .
Now it’s your turn. Let’s do it on your own.
First, make the tea bowl warm with hot water and wipe it carefully.
Secondly, scoop Matcha, the powdered tea with the bamboo scoop twice or thrice and put it in the tea bowl. And thirdly pour boiled water into the bowl and whisk briskly with the bamboo whisk. Enjoy your first Matcha making experience!
At the tea ceremony, the host cleans all the utensils, the bowls, the tea scoop and the whisk like in a ritual. Let’s learn the manners involved in how to clean a tea bowl.
The tea master gently pours hot water and wipes the bowl in silence. Do not worry If you are not able to do as she does. Here is a place where you come to feel and experience tea ceremony in a relaxed manner. Feel the mood of the tea ceremony through your body and your five senses.