We were all smiles as we waved Kitamura-San goodbye and walked back to the tea house. Along the way we caught a glimpse of a woman in full traditional costume and secretly wondered is she was a true Geisha or even a Maiko? The street echoed with the clipped gait of her wooden shoes striking the pavement and was a fitting way to set the scene for our authentic tea ceremony at Camellia.
Wikipedia describes the ceremony as follows:
The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (抹茶), powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯?) or sadō, chadō (茶道?). The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae ([お]手前; [お]点前).
At the tea house, we were joined by another couple from the UK. As customary in Japan, we removed our shoes and entered the tea room. The room was quite spare, but very beautiful and tranquil. As we took our places upon the tatami mats, I sensed such a sweet and peaceful feeling.
In fact, there is a very cool concept that is commonly associated with Japanese tea ceremonies. This concept is called Ichi-go ichi-e.
Wikipedia describes the concept as follows:
Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会 “one time, one meeting”) is a Japanese four-character idiom (yojijukugo) that describes a cultural concept of treasuring meetings with people. The term is often translated as “for this time only,” “never again,” or “one chance in a lifetime.” The term reminds people to cherish any gathering that they may take part in, citing the fact that many meetings in life are not repeated. Even when the same group of people can get together again, a particular gathering will never be replicated and thus, each moment is always once-in-a-lifetime.
There are really no better words I could think of to describe many of our experiences and meetings in Japan. However, it is my hope that the following pictures will help to convey how much we cherished our time spent together with Atsuko and each other.
In my own hands I hold a bowl of tea; I see all of nature represented in its green color. Closing my eyes, I find green mountains and pure water within my own heart. Silently sitting alone and drinking tea, I feel these become a part of me.
— Sen Soshitsu, Urasenke Tea Master XIV, Urasenke School of Japanese Tea Ceremony