During my recent visit to Tokyo, Japan, I got the opportunity to experience a 20 minutes Japanese tea ceremony at Keio Plaza Hotel. In Japanese culture, matcha green tea is more than just a drink. The Japanese tea ceremony also known as Way of Tea is a Japanese cultural activity involving ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha for centuries. It is a quiet and refined tea ceremony which is meant to demonstrate respect through grace and good etiquette.

 E & I was brought to the hotel’s Japanese Tea Ceremony Room ‘Sho-fu-an’. We were greeted by the lady tea master, Miss Michiko Yano. She is the 3rd generation in her family who pursue this art piece. She shared with us that the modern Japanese or we called it the new generations seldom get in touch with this culture anymore. Most of the people who came for the ceremony are tourists instead of locals.

So, we started the ceremony under the guidance of Michiko-san by washing up our hands and mouth first. This act is said to purify the body and soul. Michiko-san also shared the history about the tea house which is used to be a social gathering place. There are different social status such as samurai, businessmen and ordinary people during the olden days. But once everyone steps into the tea room, everyone is equal no matter what is their hierarchy.
 Next, Michiko-san shares the story about the tea room and also the Japanese calligraphy hanged in the room.
She also demonstrated on how to prepare the green tea drink. The host scoops matcha green tea powder into the bowl followed by a small amount of hot water using a traditional bamboo whisk. Then, she rapidly stirs the mixture to create the bright green colour. When the matcha powder reaches the right consistency, it is ready to serve.
Once the green tea is ready to be served, she passed them over to us. E is the first person to offer with the drink and he needs to acknowledge the person next to him which is me by saying “ Osaki ni” – which means “Sorry to drink before you”. Followed by me who is the second person that was being offered with the drink need to say “ It’s nice to enjoy the drink with you’.

After finished drinking the tea, Michiko-san also shared the story of the bowl. Each bowl has its own story and carefully selected to be used for the tea ceremony. We also learnt that we need to take a loud sip on the last sip to indicate that we are almost done with our drink. And the next step is to position the bowl with picture on it back to where it begins.
Tea master, Michiko-san then carefully cleans up all the utensils to ensure that they are clean and unblemished to mark the end session. Guest can request to the host to allow to examine some of the utensils too.
It was indeed a knowledgeable and interesting session. E and I learnt quite a bit from here. The Japanese really amazed me with their culture. For example, during the tea ceremony in the tatami room, the proper way to sit is to fold your legs under you but it was too tiring for me. I am amazed how they can remain such position for so long and still can stand up to walk gracefully.

[Thanks to Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo for the wonderful session].

Japanese Tea Ceremony
From April 18th,2016
Everyday except for Thursday, Sunday, and days upon which the room has been chartered through advance booking.
session1 11:00a.m. – 11:30a.m.
session2 2:00p.m. – 2:30p.m.
session3 3:00p.m. – 3:30p.m.
session4 4:00p.m. – 4:30p.m.
*Each session’s capasity is 4people.

(japanese tea and sweets, tax and service charge)

Japanese Tea Ceremony Room “Sho-fu-an” on the 10th floor of the Main Tower.

Inquiries / Reservations:
Please contact the Guest Relations Desk through the following inquiry form.
*We recommend you to make an advance reservation due to limited capacity.

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Tel:+81 3 3344 0111
Fax:+81 3 3345 8269
Address: 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku,
Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo
160-8330 Japan
Website: http://www.keioplaza.com/offers/tea.html

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