Reflection on Japanese Tea Ceremony

In our Space and Material class on November 6th, our class in invited to join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, Not only are we served with Matcha tea and sweets, we are also taught about the tea culture in Japan.

Personally, the most inspiring part of the ceremony is how Souheki prepares the tea step-by-step. She i almost like a machine in precision within her actions, but the atmosphere around her still shapes her as a mild graceful Japanese lady. She looks so patient when she repeats the actions of making tea for 4 times, which I really admire. The smile on her face indicates that she treats the tools on her hand as her treasure, not only a tool she gets tired with for 23 years. For me, even though I will not consider what she serves us as art, every second of her performance is so artistic.

Japanese culture is fully demonstrated during the process. Souheki is a perfect archetype of (stereotyped) traditional Japanese highly-educated lady, in the way she dresses up, makeups, talks, and reacts. The tea and sweets are also “very Japanese”, same to the tissue paper we have (pink cherry blossom is printed on it). However, the tools (the bowls, the bamboo ladle, and the kettles, for examples) she uses doesn’t make me feel a lot about Japanese culture, since they are so similar to ancient Chinese tools for tea ceremony. But what I really admire about Japanese culture, in general, is that they learn things from China (tea ceremony, fencing, clothing, buildings) and they keep it, whereas China doesn’t pay attention and let the skills disappear in the history.

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