Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Time for a Pot of Tea?

We were very fortunate while we were in Japan that Tae, a very good friend of Bryan's (he calls her his Japanese Mother), was willing to perform tea ceremony for us at the farm.  Tae arrived dressed in an elegant kimono and it took a long time to set everything up properly on the third floor.  It was revealed that one of the bedside tables was actually a brazier for the kettle!
I cannot even begin to explain tea ceremony, it is full of ritual and ceremony, a reason for every movement and process and something that takes many years of study to begin to perform beautifully and correctly.  There is loads written on the subject, a simple outline is given here by the Japan National Tourism Organisation, there is much more detail here.  Tae was elegant and precise and we all did our best to be equally elegant, to say the right thing and to handle the Chawan - tea bowl correctly - not drinking from the front of the bowl for example.
When Tae had served us all she asked if somebody would like to make tea for her.  I leapt at the chance but boy was I nervous!  Afterwards Bryan told me I was so nervous my toes were curling up!  Tae guided me through each step and I was so honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity.
Little sweets are eaten before drinking the matcha to balance the bitterness, ours were themed to the season of cherry blossom:
Bryan told us that a discussion about the origins and pedigree of the tea bowls would probably follow the ceremony if we were Japanese so here's my little ceramics contribution.

I bought this lovely little dish at the antiques fair at Tokyo International Forum on the Sunday before I joined the Japanese Textile Study Tour. 

Carin spoke to the stallholder about it for me it is Ontayaki pottery , not very old but I love it.  There's an interesting account of a visit to the Onta pottery village in Oita Prefecture (in southern Japan) here.

At Kiso-san's I bought two tea cups, I think of them as being a couple, one male, one female, and I love them both.  The celadon glaze is gorgeous and the cups are wonderfully tactile and a lovely reminder of my visit to Japan, I shall enjoy using them.

I also collected these pottery shards during my time in Japan.  I'm not sure what I shall do with them yet but they felt like little gifts.
Finally on ceramics (for today), this wall near the Japan Folk Crafts Museum caught my eye.


  1. so many beautiful stories and images as usual.

  2. Wow... did you enjoy the tea? Do they only have tea at certain times of the day... it was very interesting to read I guess we live in a world of we want it now and don't take the time to enjoy the process, this goes for many things not just tea making!

  3. I was amazed when Bryan said there were more than eighty different tea ceremonies for differing purposes. After learning that I could understand how it takes years and years to perfect performance. Hey by the way Lis, my beautiful little cereal bowl from Kiso san's pottery matches your teacups.

  4. Two minds think alike. I have a draft for tea ceremony ready to post too. Love all your pottery pieces, what treasure!

  5. Yes, just like Ikebana, there are many schools of tea ceremony. How brave of you to leap up and give it a try!
    I love your little acquisitions. Think of Japan while sipping.

  6. A lovely post, I have no picture of the tea cerimony and this made me smile. How lovely and full of grace Tae san was in every gesture.
    Thank you Lis, it is nice to read your Japenese memeories.

  7. As usual, your blog is full of information. You are a true teacher! It was very interesting to read and look up the links to Onta-yaki.
    Enjoy your pottery!

  8. Your tea ceremony sounds wonderful and I love the little cups and bowl that you bought for yourself, you are right they look very tactile :-)


I really appreciate your lovely comments, ideas and opinions, they make my day. Thank you for visiting Piece'n'Peace,
hugs, Lis x