My Wednesday morning class (4 adult women) has taken it upon themselves to teach me about Japanese culture. Last week, Setsuko-san had us all make origami boxes. She made one for me and was kind enough to include some Japanese candy inside πŸ™‚ But I got to make one, too, which I actually did with my clumsy fingers.

This week, Kazuko-san , who has been trained at one of the top 3 Tea Ceremony “academies” did a small ceremony for us. I know it will probably sound weird, but I was a little light-headed during the ceremony. It was just that I could feel the history and importance of it. I think we all could, because everyone was silent even though she told us to feel free to chat. There was such a sacred feeling to the ritual, the way you hold the bowl, drink from the bowl, warm the bowl with hot water before making the tea. Everything was done in a very specific way. I could almost imagine the scene from days of old: a woman dressed in the traditional kimono, kneeling before the tea setting, drying the bowl ritualistically and then rotating the bowl twice before bowing as she delicately places it in front of the guest. It was really beautiful. I felt honored to witness such a tradition.

She also invited me to make one of the bowls of tea. I can see why it takes so much training. Not only do you have to remember to do several things in a specific order, you have to perform each task the proper way. You have to dry the bowl a certain way with your right hand while holding it with your left. The spoon for the tea is held a certain way, as is the tea container. You even whisk the tea a certain way to make it froth properly. I didn’t get much froth on mine, so I was sure it was terrible. But Kazuko-san took a sip and said, “Oishii (delicious)”. I saw her face though; I’m sure she was being kind πŸ™‚