25 May 2006

Cha No Yu

You are wondering what happened to our cathedral, aren't you? I have not forgotten about it, we've just been interrupted by Japan. :) I promise you a lovely update on our backyard
cathedral soon. But first... Cha No Yu. Japanese Tea Ceremony.
We've been studying about the culture of Japan and wanted to round out our time with a tea ceremony. I hoped to compare Eastern tea-taking with the Western-style tea we hosted a month or so ago. (See my entry titled, "May I Refresh Your Cup?")
In honor of the occasion we stripped the dining room to it's bare walls (no ostentatious decor allowed- it distracts from the "spiritual" mood of the tea ceremony), studied and practiced the highly prescribed routine for serving green tea, and invited our Aunt Trinh and Uncle Jason to join us. They came dressed in their bathrobe-kimonos and stooped through the low door to take some green tea with us.

Anna and Ellie in their kimonos and ready to recline. Konichiwa!

Rebekah serves koicha (thick tea) in her homemade kimono. This portion of the tea ceremony is made by whisking powdered green tea with a bamboo whisk. All guests drink from one bowl, laying the bottom flat against their left hand, turning it a half turn to the right and bracing it with their right hand.

One element of a Japanese tea ceremony is a simple, pure environment. There should be nothing in the room save a carefully chosen scroll of calligraphy which reflects the mood or purpose of the tea ceremony. Rebekah made this scroll, which reads, "Honor your father and mother."

The guests, not the host, choose the "principle guest" before they enter the tea room. We chose Uncle Jason. Here he inspects the craftsmanship of the koicha bowl, compliments the hostess on the quality of the tea and her specially-chosen calligraphy scroll.

After koicha, we all exit through the low door so the hostess can prepare for usucha.

Welcome back. Ellie will serve usucha (thin tea). Now there is a small tea bowl for each guest. She warms each cup with hot water while she passes around a plate of sweet treats. When her guests finish the sweet, she dumps out the warming water and brews thin green tea.

The hostess chooses a special flower arrangement to place in the niche of the tea room. Ikebana is Japanese flower arranging. Ellie made this one from a sprig of Morning Glory.

Ellie listens as her guests say, "O temae o chodai ita shimasu." Which means, "I will take tea with you." (Yes, those are chopsticks in her hair. She is very PoMo in her approach to Japanese fashion.)

Aunt Trinh, Rebekah and Uncle Jason enjoy a quiet smile with their usucha. I think their souls are being enlightened.

Aunt Trinh demonstrates the low doorway to the tea room. All guests, from the Emperor of Japan to the lowliest farm hand, must crouch to enter the tea room, signifying that all men are equal while inside the tea room.

When our Cha No Yu was over, we broke tradition and barbecued ribs for dinner. Yeeehaw! I mean, sayonara.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Steve said...

This was a faboulous experience...may there be many cultures to fill our home.

arigato.

8:53 PM  
Blogger gramarty said...

We never did anything like this at our boring home school! How fun!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Kelley said...

Do you think I could ever get my boys to do something like this? Wait--if Ellie is there, Nate will do almost anything! And he'll invite her sisters, too. Thanks for sharing the process of a true Japanese tea--it was very enlightening, even over yonder here in Texas :)

10:03 PM  
Blogger gretalynn said...

I'm still saving your ideas! I've convinced my husband that homeschooling is the way. (It's not so common here in Mexico!) Now, we just need the students!!! :)

7:20 PM  

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