Today we were given the opportunity to follow the tea master Dairik Amae through his process of tea ceremony. We began with collection of the pure water from a spring, then purchase of the tea and sweets, and finally our arrival at his house, where we were treated to a tea ceremony.
Dairik explained that tea ceremony is essentially an act of meditation. It is not so much about the taste of the tea as much as it is about the atmosphere created by the tea master and their guests. It is important that both the tea master and the guests are engaged in the ceremony, otherwise the emotional effect is lost. The lighting is usually dim, to allow for better use of other senses. The decorations are simple and often imperfect, in accordance with wabi-sabi aesthetics. Every movement by the tea master is slow and purposeful, and must be executed with precision, particularly in the dim lighting.
I forced myself to sit seiza (on my knees) for the entirety of the tea ceremony because I wanted to be as authentic to the actual experience as possible. I feel that sitting in this way helped me have correct posture and allowed me to stay alert and focused on the environment around me. By the end of the ceremony, I couldn’t feel either of my legs when I tried to stand, and I ended up having to stamp my feet around to get the blood flowing properly again. But it was worth the experience. I never imagined I would be able to have tea prepared in this way.
Admittedly, everything I drank today was a diuretic, and as a result I’m hoping I was able to flush my body of many toxins, because I am starting to get a bit of a sore throat. Alas, this trip is starting to take a toll on my body. But I love it here. I’m so grateful for everything that I’ve seen and learned.
Starting tomorrow, we practice our presentations and prepare for the last leg of the trip. I’m still not sure what I’ll want to do on the last day we’re here – our free day. There are still many shrines and temples I’d like to visit, and there is a little bit more shopping I might want to do. We’ll see what happens.
Until then, I’m going to enjoy some restful sleep.