Saturday, 7 June 2014

Japanese Tea Ceremony at a 150 Year Old Tea House

I had a Bucketlist for Japan before coming here to make sure I made the most out of my trip.
One of the things I really wanted to do was go to a traditional tea ceremony.

A lot of the places that Google recommends are tea ceremonies held at hotel halls.
That wasn't exactly what came to mind when I thought "traditional" so I kept looking.

Then I found a blogpost on Happo-En and knew this was the place I wanted.

The only thing is that the sensei only speaks Japanese so you will need a Japanese speaking friend or translator.
Luckily I had the former.

This tea house is located on a huge estate in the middle of the city, but being here you'd never know.
It's positioned on a gorgeous lake surrounded by cherry blossoms.
And the sweetest lake hut I have ever seen.

tea house and a traditional japanese tea ceremony in tokyo at happo-en

When the hour of our booking arrived we were expecting to be with a tour group like the one that just left, but that's not at all what happened.
We had the whole place and the sensei to ourselves and to whom we could ask any question we wanted.
(She's been perfecting her practice of making tea for more than 40 years!!)

mochi at traditional japanese tea ceremony in tokyo at happo-en

She laid out some mochi and a sugar cookie for each of us to enjoy while she began preparing the matcha green tea.

traditional japanese tea ceremony in tokyo at happo-en

Every tea house has their own unique matcha blend and a special, ceremonial way of preparing it, so while we were allowed to watch we weren't allowed to record any videos.

The whole ceremony takes maybe 10 minutes but the tea is incredible.
You will never have anything like it anywhere else.

matcha green tea at a traditional japanese tea ceremony in tokyo

We also learned the correct, and very polite way of showing your appreciation to the host for making the tea, and how to drink it properly.
It's a process that involves bowing, admiring the bowl/cup, sipping the tea, cleaning the bowl/cup, hand placement, among other things... very beautiful, but needless to say I would need a lot more practice before I can do this properly.

We liked it so much that we asked for another cup... and we shamelessly drank this almost completely forgetting what we just learned about manners.

The walk around the estate is beautiful and we saw many people dressed up in traditional clothes taking their wedding pictures.

traditional japanese wedding couple

Afterwards we had a little walk around the garden to admire the amount of work needed to keep a place this big looking so manicured and polished.

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