Conducting a Japanese Tea Ceremony, Part 1

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The Japanese conduct their tea ceremony in a variety of different ways depending on the time and season. The two main occupations are known as Furo, for use in the summer, and Ro, for use in the winter – however, these two can vary, and location / personal preference can bring in an even greater number of factors when it comes to the ceremony itself.

Firstly, it is helpful to note that Japanese tea rooms tend to look nothing like the table-and-chair tea rooms that we are so used to; Japanese people sit on the floor much more often than we in Western society do. As such, there are no chairs and tables present in a Japanese tea room; it is merely a square with a dip in the middle for which to prepare tea.

There are preparations one must make several weeks before your tea ceremony is to begin. First, you must invite your guests. It is only polite to give your guests several weeks’ notice so that they may prepare and adequately adjust their lives to allow the visit; failure to give adequate notice could result in your guests not being able to show up at all.

It must be ensured that tearoom and the garden outside are clean and tidy before commencement of the ceremony; it is wise to ensure this is done more than a few days before it begins. Tatami mats and sliding door Shoji paper should both be replaced as well.

A meeting should be held with the Hantou and Shokyaku, which are some very special guests to your tea ceremony. This is to help decide important things about the tea ceremony and to explain what sort of tea ceremony you intend to hold.

Finally, one day before the ceremony begins, you should begin to prepare the Kaiseki meal. Whether you begin the day before or early in the morning of the ceremony is up to you; mostly it depends on how large and/or complicated you intend the meal to be. Newcomers to Japanese cuisine will find it easier to keep it small and simple during their first ceremonies.

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