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Friday, February 14, 2014

En: Heart of Tea Ceremony {Japan}

Ooooo- Two posts in one day- I must be in a good mood. :) 

Well I am, but I also couldn't wait any longer to share an awesome experience we had in Kyoto. 

After exploring around the Kyoto area on our first full day, we went to the En Tea Ceremony

En Tea is a small tea house in Gion, Kyoto where you can learn the traditional way of tea. We found this shop when doing a search of things to do in the area, and it came highly recommended. We were excited to experience this and learn a little more about one part of Japanese culture. The tea ceremony was about 50 minutes long and 2,000 Yen (roughly $20) per person. 

We had a wonderful time, and we learned a lot. The way of tea is not just about making some green tea- it's so much more. The tea ceremony is about the tea, the tea-room architecture, the care of the tea utensils and bowls, and Zen Buddhism. It was a beautiful ceremony- it was so relaxing and a wonderful break from walking around and exploring. 

The way of tea is not a religion, but a way to study Japanese manners and spirituality. The way of tea encompasses four main beliefs: Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility (Wa-Kei-Sei-Jaku). 

 {Here is the tea ceremony room- you can see all the tools she used- the water, the tea bowl, bamboo wisk, tea power, bamboo ladle, bamboo bowl for waste water, and the water kettle.} 

{Our tea hostess- she has been studying the way of tea for about 10 years. One thing she taught us was that the tea students are always learning and always going back to their masters. And the masters go to their masters.} 

{Everything in the room was set up to support the tea ceremony. Every ceremony would have a calligraphy and a simple flower arrangement.} 

So how was the tea?!? Okay, I'll be honest- I'm not a fan. It's really strong, and I don't really like tea to begin with. But don't let that stop you from going. Even if you don't love the tea you will love the experience. Plus, the sweet you get before the tea is delicious and more than made up for not liking the tea. During the ceremony, you first watch the ceremony, and then you get to make a bowl of tea. (Matt was praised for his whisking abilities- I was not.) Every movement made during the ceremony has a symbolic or practical reason of being done. It's all so precise, and really interesting to watch. 

*Fun Fact- You are supposed finish your tea in three and a half sips. And the last half sip you are to make a sipping noise to show your host you are finished. Then when everyone is finished you turn your bowl over to study the tea bowl and admire the artist and the art.* 

So yes- if you are in this area- I think you should make time for the tea ceremony. It's a wonderful way to really learn about a specific part of Japanese culture. 

PS- If you're here from Casey's Fresh Face Friday- Welcome Welcome! 

Basic Information
Cost: 2,000 Yen per person *Private tea ceremony 4,000 Yen* Cash only. 
Ceremony Times: 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 
Closed on Wednesdays 
Location: Right past Chion-in Temple- first alley after the temple by the Tenka-Ippin noodle restaurant 
For more information, click here

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