Thursday, May 8, 2014

Japanese Tea / House / Garden

Throwback Thursday: In May 2014, around the time I graduated with my PhD, I finally fulfilled my desire to experience a tea ceremony at the Japan House. I went with a friend, JGD, who has since moved to Montana. For whatever reason, this post remained unwritten for three years. I am happy to relive this memory: the sunshine, the greenery, the culture, and the friendship. Only you'll note that we are wearing jackets, as it was unseasonably cold.

On the appointed day, a group of us was greeted by a volunteer, who explained the history of Japan House and a little bit about the tea ceremony (chado). Since 1964, Japan House has spread understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture through history courses, art lectures, sake tasting, origami folding, flower-arranging and calligraphy workshops. After 9/11, Japan House and local school children sent 3,000 folded paper cranes to New York City.

As I recall, the tea ceremony itself was almost uncomfortably quiet. We were invited to appreciate the beauty of each tea bowl and the spareness of the kimono-clad hostess's movements. I distinctly remember that the long kneeling was uncomfortable, especially for someone like me with bad knees. I didn't particularly like the bitter tea, but I drank it. I think there was a little sweet to go with it.

I'll close with a haiku:

Two friends walked their paths:
one to the western mountains
and one to the East.

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