Traditional Culture of Japan - Traditional crafts and culture

No need for a special tea room: enjoy a tea ceremony in your apartment


Many people imagine a tea ceremony taking place in a tea room with the participants wearing kinomos. Perhaps because it is associated with “tradition,” the tea ceremony tends to be regarded as a serious matter.


However, this very formal kind of tea ceremony is not the only kind. You can perform a tea ceremony even if you don't have a special tea room. Living alone in an apartment, there is no reason why you can’t have a tea ceremony in your room. Tea ceremony really is something that can be more of an everyday affair.


  Entertaining a guest
When you welcome friends or guests to your home, what sort of things do you do? No doubt, you prepare your room by cleaning it. It would be simply embarrassing to invite a guest into a messy room.


And when your friends come to visit you, you will surely serve something like tea or coffee together with some cakes or snacks. Friendly conversation will ensue as the food and drink is consumed.


Keep in mind that in the tea ceremony, you are essentially doing the same sort of thing as this. Before a tea-ceremony party, you clean the house. In addition, you make preparations such as putting up a hanging scroll and setting out an arrangement of flowers in the room to be used for the tea ceremony. Then, everything is ready for you to greet your friends.


Now put out the sweets and the matcha to soften the atmosphere of the room. From that point, you may have a pleasant chat, or you may play some sort of simple game. In other words, for a tea-ceremony gathering, just do what you would normally do in greeting guests.


To be sure, there various detailed rules of etiquette associated with tea ceremony. But rather than thinking about how to strictly apply such rules, it is surely a worthwhile goal to make the ceremony a more relaxed and accessible activity. In fact, the essence of tea ceremony is to please your visitors.


  You can even have a tea ceremony in your apartment
Pleasing your guests is what is important: the tea ceremony is not just about creating a moving experience.


To be more specific, a person will be really moved attending a very formal tea ceremony for the first time in a tea house somewhere in the corner of a wonderful Japanese garden, with the person preparing the tea wearing a kimono. But this guest is unlikely to consider doing the same for his or her friends, because the experience seems so exotic.


A person who invites others to a tea ceremony must take into consideration a lot of things, like tidying up the whole garden in the morning, sweeping paths, and preparing the food for the ceremony. Because this is a lot of work, it’s only natural that people don’t invite others to tea ceremony at the drop of a hat.


If you think in this way, you attach too much importance to emulating the authentic traditional form of tea ceremony and you deviate from its basic purpose. It is important to make an extra effort for guests on special occasions, but it is unreasonable to go to such great lengths every time you invite people to your home for tea.


You can invite a guest to enjoy a cup of tea even if you live in a typical apartment that has no room with tatami mat flooring. As suggested above, if you simply tidy up and clean the place and serve matcha and cakes, that’s fine.


You can change the atmosphere by turning off the lights, laying a rug on the floor, and lighting some candles. The general concept of a tea ceremony room is to create a space a little different from what you see every day.


You don't have to write an invitation in advance, as is the practice with a formal tea ceremony. You can invite your friends to a tea ceremony when they call in for a short visit, for example.


So we have two types of tea ceremony: the formal tea ceremony that deeply moves people, and the more casual tea ceremony that is intended to be enjoyed and has less onerous requirements. It is important to give greater emphasis to the more enjoyable, everyday form of tea ceremony and gradually break away from the time-honored, deeply moving form of the ceremony.

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