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Japanese culture association performs delicate art of traditional tea ceremony

Japanese culture association performs delicate art of traditional tea ceremony

Japanese culture association performs delicate art of traditional tea ceremony
April 17
14:51 2016

Victoria Monteros | Staff Writer

@ToriLaSuper

The tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony calls for a very strict adherence to procedure.

There is fashion, phrases, behavior, movement, pottery and even treatment of items used in the ceremony is specific, with every action being executed at a certain time. For example, when the host of the tea ceremony is disposing of the used water, they turn the around, as they find it polite not to expose guests to the used water.

“It’s a continual learning experience,” Chado-Urasenke Tanko-kai Dallas-Fort Worth association member Ruby O’Neil said when asked if one truly ever masters the art. “Never ever stop learning.”

Participants can enjoy the tea and the ceremony, temporarily leaving behind mundane, worldly matters in a very quiet, tranquil tradition in which the only conversation taking place is about the tea and elements. It dates back to as early as the 11th century, and the Chado-Urasenke Tanko-kai Dallas-Fort Worth Association came to UNT to share it.

April 13 marked the second time the association performed a demonstration of the age-old ceremony. They set up on the first level of the Language Building with mats, Japanese room dividers, traditional pottery and, of course, tea.

Four members from the association demonstrated the elaborate art of the tea ceremony while another member would lecture the audience on what was happening throughout the whole ceremony.

“The way of tea encompasses architecture and history, calligraphy, flower arrangement, pottery and metalwork,” association member Carmen Johnson said. “Everything about tea is Japanese history and culture.”

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Rie Tamana pours tea for attendees. Courtesy | Shana Travis

One idea taught in regard to the whole ceremony is that every encounter is unique, and that it will never occur in the same exact way.

“You’re doing one thing, so you have one mind to do one thing. So you are focused on having the tea and everything else just leaves your mind,” Japanese professor Rebecca Taylor said. “You just feel very relaxed.”

After the demonstration concluded, guests were invited to try Matcha tea and traditional snacks, but the tea ceremony is about so much more than just tea. Four key elements are incorporated throughout the whole event: Wa, Kei, Sei and Jyaku. The elements represent harmony, purity, respect and tranquility respectively.

“In my own hands I hold a bowl of tea; I see all of nature represented in its green color. Silently, sitting alone, drinking tea, I feel these become part of me,” Dr. Genshitsu Sen, Urasenke Grand Master XV said of tea. “Sharing this bowl of tea with others, they, too, become one with it and nature.”

The Grand Master also was a kamikaze pilot in World War II and saw a lot of friends perish throughout the duration of the war. When he returned, he realized he could spread peace through a bowl of tea. Since then, he has made it his purpose to travel throughout the world in hopes of spreading this idea of peace and harmony through tea.

A sense of gratitude is also present in the ceremony, as it takes a lot of time and preparation to set up the tea ceremony in a traditional manner and accommodate the participants within it.

Johnson hopes that we can emulate this here in America and incorporate its idea in our lives.

“I think we can do tea. I think we can model other things on tea and the goals of tea,” Johnson said. “Not just tea, but I think we can take example from the Japanese. They are a very communitarian culture. Nobody does anything alone.”

The Chado-Urasenke Tanko-kai Association and UNT Japanese department hope they can spread the beauty and unique traditions of the Japanese culture and hopefully spark an interest in the tea ceremony and its wonderful characteristics by demonstrating it for all to see.

“A lot of the aspects that are in tea ceremony are aspects that are valued in Japanese Culture,” Taylor said. “What better way to see it than actually participate in it.”

Featured Image: Mayujo Takahashi, left, and Michiyo Fitzgerald adhere to the strict procedures of a Japanese tea ceremony. Courtesy | Shana Travis

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