Sunday, July 15, 2012

My First Chakai

I attended my first Japanese Tea chakai yesterday.  The advanced students at the Issoan Tea School put on this event to celebrate Tanabata, and to welcome the newer students.  I felt very honored to be invited! 

Tea ceremonies are built around a theme, with clues and nods to the theme revealed throughout.  Our theme was the story of the stars Vega (Orihime) and Altair (Hikoboshi), separated by the Milky Way.  The two lovers are allow to meet only once each year (on the seventh day of the seventh month).

The team that prepared this chakai worked for weeks to plan in great detail.  They decided upon the theme, thoughtfully selected the utensils, prepared the stories that go with the utensils, chose the foods and the poetic names, planned what kimono they would wear, made the sweets, and put their creative powers together for the extra-special touches and surprises throughout the event, all tied into the theme.  On the day of the event, they cleaned (an important part of the process), prepared the food, laid out the utensils, selected and arranged the flowers, hung the scroll, readied the matcha and the water, got dressed in kimono, and many other things of which I am unaware, all in time to greet us calmly. (Note:  I am leaving out some of the specifics here, as it seems appropriate to leave the intimate details to the group that gathered.)

My experience of this tea ceremony was like opening a special gift wrapped in many beautiful layers, the entirety being revealed slowly and deliberately.  

I was so captured by the matcha tea-making (iced, imagine that!), and the stories, that I forget to do a few things.  I will forgive myself for the blunders.   Eventually my learning will integrate (practice, practice) and I will be able to both listen and move.  One of the most beautiful parts of this chakai was that regardless of the inexperience of the guests, we were made to feel special, welcome, and not at all awkward.

My sincere gratitude to the Senpai (the advanced students who put on the event), the First Guest who cheerfully guided us through, and to Margie-Sensei, for the use of her tea room and the depth of instruction she offers.


Karen said...

I just love your description of your experience, Steph. Thanks for sharing the lovely details of this very special tea ceremony.

Teafan said...

You are learning so much. These Japanese Tea classes have definitely been a wonderful experience for you. I also like that you didn't share all of the details. I think sometimes we need to keep the experience to the group that was there.

Marilyn said...

Steph, I can just picture you there unwrapping each detail and savoring. Thanks for sharing a touch of that delight. Your photo is gorgeous and the words a gift. I am so happy you were there to experience.

Angela McRae said...

Oh my, so many new terms to go look up! I have much to learn ... !

Micupoftea~ said...

Steph~ So glad you enjoyed your is not for people who like to rush! I studied Urusenke for 3 years with my 70+ year old sensei and she still meets with HER sensei who is in her 80's! Lovely, quiet, gracious tea times :)