Tea gathering is an art and ritual to serve special powdered tea called Matcha in a formal setting. It is one of the most honored tradition in Japan.
The practice of serving powdered tea with hot water was introduced to Japan from China by Zen priests in 12th century. Zen Buddhism greatly influenced the tradition, emphasizing simplicity, harmony with nature and self discipline.
In a tea gathering, guests are invited to enjoy green tea made by the host. During this time, they appreciate the beauty of tea utensils, works of art shared between the host and guests.
The tea master, Sen No Rikyu established the guiding principles for tea gathering: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.
In addition to these principles, the essence of Chanoyu is embodied in the conceept of ichigo-ichie (literally, one time, one meeting). This is the awareness that each tea gathering is a once in a lifetime event, never to occur again. For this reason, the sharing of a bowl of tea should be conducted with humble nature and the utmost sincerity.
I take a Chanoyu lesson once or twice a month regularly. This is an opportunity to lean about traditional Japanese culture, art, etiquette and history. The most valuable lesson I learned from it is "the kind consideration for others", that is inherent in Omotenashi, the act of entertaining a guest with hospitality from the heart.
I would recommend anyone to experience the tea ceremony or tea gathering offered at various places in Japan. By engaging in formal act of serving and receiving tea, our mind and spirit is refreshteed, and gain insight into the cultural and social dimensions of Chanoyu.
My friends, Masako, a tea master and Nao, an interpreter and I plan to set up a Tea Ceremony Experience program soon. Details will be given later. If you have a chance, please join us!