A few years ago, Yoko treated me to a tea ceremony course in Tokyo for my birthday. It was such a special, memorable experience!
Tucked back into the bustling city streets of western Tokyo, we walked to the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, where they take in about two dozen people, twice a week for a lesson on sado (tea ceremony).
This 90-minute course is taught in Japanese, and is a mix of total beginners (like us) and those who are more seriously seeking a path in the art of tea. It is in the Urasenkei school of tea, which is one of the three major schools.
Led by tea master Sosoku Takashima (below in a blue kimono), we were taught the basics of tea ceremony. Well, the "basics" is everything in sado – it is learning, practicing, and mastering of these basics that will differentiate you from merely an enthusiast to a master. Takashima went over different steps depending on what level you were at in your tea education. With certain students, she demonstrated how to fold the chakin (towel), or how to serve tea. For us, she showed us how to walk, how to enter the room, exit the room, how to accept tea, and how to sit. This last point, sitting, is possibly the hardest part of sado for me (my legs tingle just thinking about it).
Sado is centered around offering and accepting tea. This tea is always matcha. You may often see "ceremonial" grade matcha being sold, which is usually a high grade matcha, very expensive, used for tea ceremonies and special occasions. Matcha bowls are unique and "imperfect" in the wabi-sabi tradition.
We were also taught how to properly accept wagashi (sweets). No problem!
Me and Anders on my 38th birthday!
Takashima was a soft-spoken yet firm teacher, and in these focused 90 minutes, my curiosity was piqued. I greatly enjoyed this small glimpse into the steady and exacting sado universe. About ten years ago, my friend told me, "you're too young for sado." As my 40th birthday looms ahead of me, I will look into Bay Area sado courses as I approach middle age.
Akasaka Hikawa Shrine
Sado (Tea Ceremony)
Akasaka, Minato City