Day 5: Tea

Have you ever thought about the mechanics of drinking tea? The symbolism? The history? Today’s adventure touched on all those questions when we met Amae-san who is a more modern practitioner of the ages old tea ceremony. We got spring water from a shrine about 15 minutes away from our hostel and proceeded to learn about how to properly thank the Shinto gods for their gift of water before we went to pick up some Japanese sweets, wagashi.

The groups split up and switched off our tea ceremony times, but ultimately we all sat through a more casual explanation of the bones of the ceremony and what it meant spiritually to Amae-san. We were set up in a 6-7 tatami mat room and the water was boiled in the floor right in front of us.

Totousha’s team room

I thought that was a pretty amazing part of the tea room and watching the different movements that Amae-san made, each with a purpose, was like watching a dance almost. The moves seemed to be almost a part of his muscle memory at this point and it was fun to watch. I also really enjoyed the tea and the wagashi which was a small little ball of yamaimo mixed with egg to make this little beauty:

After that most of us went to the Kyoto National Museum and even thought I’ve never really been a person who has studied art super closely, there’s something beautiful about walking into a museum and seeing pieces of art grouped together. Seeing a singular Buddhist statue or scroll painting may not seem like something transcendent, but when you can see the evolution of an artwork, or even how it compares to others of its kind, or doesn’t, it’s truly amazing.

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