The enduring allure of the Way of Tea is proof of its profound meaning for people — not only Japanese, but people of all cultures… The principles underlying this Art of Living are Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility. These are universal principles that, in a world such as ours today, fraught with unrest, friction, self-centeredness, and other such social ailments, can guide us toward the realization of genuine peace.
[~from the Urasenke website]
Many thanks to my friend Izumi Texidor Hirai for inviting us to the international tea gathering at the Urasenke Chado Kaikan on Saturday. Thanks also to Carol Begert for providing a commentary as Izumi prepared the tea. Despite my long residence in Japan, this was my first time to witness personally the simplicity and grace inherent in the Japanese ritual of shared tea. I was impressed by the sense of peace I found there.
Following one of the traditional Japanese arts undoubtedly makes life here more fulfilling and can provide an entry not only into the language, and general culture but into the development of true friendships. And whether it be a martial art, Zen Buddhism, ikebana, ceramics or in my own case haiku, we can all find some aspect of Japanese culture that appeals to us. The Japanese Way of Tea is intimately connected with many of these other arts: calligraphy, ceramics, flower arrangement, zen, and Japanese cuisine. However in the calm serenity of the tea ceremony I witnessed on Saturday it was easy to see its own unique appeal, and both Carol and Izumi bore testimony to how it has enriched their lives. If you are interested in learning more about the tea ceremony, the Urasenke school (one of the in Japan) offers special classes in English at its Kyoto headquarters. Please click the link for details: Chan-no-yu Classes in English.
Urasenke Konnichian is also holding an exhibition of Kyushu ceramics now, with many beautiful antique pieces on show + a genuine letter by the father of the tea ceremony Sen no Rikyu himself! Click here for details: Ceramics of Kyushu
In addition (!) KICH will be giving a free screening of the 1988 movie The Spirit of Tea: Sen no Rikyu with English subtitles on January 10th: Japanese Film Screenings with English Subtitles at KICH