202403161Date and Time:  Saturday, March 16, 2024    10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Venue:  Room 1 and Japanese Room, Abiko Civic Plaza

Instructor:  Ms.Souga Kuroda (Urasenke)

Participants:  27 people (12 students, 11 volunteer Japanese teachers and 4 AIRA staff members)        (No. 23-23)

At the last session of this year, the Saturday class held a tea ceremony experience, which is one of the most representative forms of Japanese culture.

AIRA holds “Abiko International Festival” every year, in which a tea ceremony is held for the visitors to experience Japanese culture, but it seemed many foreigners were unfamiliar with the manners and felt uneasy, which made them hesitate to join it.  Therefore, the Saturday class teachers decided to hold a “tea party experience” for the students with the support of a tea ceremony master Ms. Souga Kuroda.

Moderated by Mr.Mashiko, the event started with Ms.Kuroda’s explanation about the tea ceremony, following the opening remark by AIRA President Kitajima.

Ms.Kuroda talked about the history of the tea ceremony, which used to be limited to powerful individuals such as feudal lords and wealthy merchants in old days and later spread to samurai and ordinary people thanks to Sen no Rikyu.  She also explained the background of the split between

Omotesenke and Urasenke.

The participants were divided into two groups, the experience group at Room 1 and the study group at Japanese Room, and the sessions took place alternately.

1. Experience Group

The students learned the manners of entering the room, walking on the tatami, sitting, greeting each other and having a sweet and a bowl of green tea.

Handout references:  “How to have sweets” “How to have tea”

The room was decorated with a hanging scroll “Ichi go ichi e”, meaning “once-in-a-life time encounter,”, and a vase with a branch of cherry blossoms in it, creating an authentic and serene atmosphere of a tearoom.

After being served tea, they tried making tea themselves.  First they looked awkward, but gradually got used to the wrist movements and were able to create fine bubbles on the surface of the tea.

2. Study Group

The students prepared for (reviewed) the experience in the Japanese room through watching Youtube videos “How to receive the tea bowl” “How to show thanks” “How to have tea” and “”How to make tea,” listening to Ms.Nagasawa’s explanation.

Most students attended a tea ceremony for the first time though a few had previous experiences at elementary schools.  They shared their favorable impressions saying, “The sweet was delicious.” “The tea is bitter, but when I had tea after eating the sweet, I didn’t feel the bitterness.”

The final class of the school year 2023 concluded after Mr. Mashiko explained the class schedule for the next year.

Through this class we were able provide an opportunity for people from overseas to easily experience the tea ceremony.

(Translated by Chizu Yamaguchi)