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Experiencing a tea ceremony in Kyoto, Japan

  • September 3, 2019
  • By Shev
  • 0 Comments
Experiencing a tea ceremony in Kyoto, Japan

On our last day in Kyoto, we thought it would not be fair to leave without experiencing the quintessential Japanese tea ceremony. We were curious as we did not know what to expect but in all honesty, I was expecting some history about tea cultivation and the history of tea. What we got was an ultimate lesson in mindfulness.  Most of us struggling with grasping the concept of mindfulness.

We arrived in the traditional Old Kyto area of Higashiyama. The area itself is like a walk through Kyoto History, with its narrow lanes and wooden houses and worth a visit. The place we booked is called Camellia Flower, also set inside a wooden house (traditional Machiya) in the neighbourhood of Ninenzaka, we were part of a group as part of the shared tea ceremony ritual. 

After taking off our shoes and being greeted by the host who spoke excellent english, we were seated in the traditional tea room where a traditional cup and a small plate was placed in front of us. The minimalist style and the calmness of the room is enough to calm the most racing mind. One cannot fail to appreciate the soft tone of voice and the graceful movements of the host who wore a beautiful kimono. 

She explained the basis and history of a traditional tea ceremony in a perfectly soothing voice, never in complicated jargon but one could listen to her all day. Japanese tea practice uses tea leaves known as Sencha and if i had to summarise the whole experience, I could just say I watched a lady dressed in traditional Japanese wear, make a cup of Matcha. But it was so much more than that.

As she puts the water to boil and starts to prepare the Matcha in a bowl,she engages with us. The act of pouring the water in the bowl and the act of mixing it together, in a ceremonial fashion left us all speechless. The serenity which reigned in the room made me uneasy and it was then I realised, how focusing on the little acts of everyday life, can bring us closer to being mindful. We listened to the flow of the water, we watched the movements of the hands while she whisked artfully and we followed her exact instructions on how to drink it in the traditional way. After that, we followed suit and whisked away in our own bowls under the watchful guidance of our host. 

It felt like time had stopped and we felt the presence of each one in the room, the deafening silence and the melodic voice of our host sent us to a place of peace. I have to add that I burst into a fit of laughter at one point, unable to accept the calmness washing over me. I would recommend this experience to anyone, whose life is a constant rush and slowing down has become a distant dream. If like me, you experience resistance in any way, you will know you have come to the right place and you will never look at your morning cup of tea in the same way again!

Camelia Flower Tea Ceremony, Camellia, 349 Masuya-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City

By Shev, September 3, 2019
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About
Hi, I am Shev. By profession, I am an analyst. Over the years, I have wandered around the globe and have gathered a lifetime of memories but above all, I realised most of my travel plans revolved around food and coffee! My journals and iPhone notes are filled with writings about restaurants, coffee shops and local cuisines I have discovered. Food is a lifelong affair for me, I love describing the scenes when I visit a restaurant or if i encounter a new cuisine, I get really curious and want to find out about the history around it.
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