KCP Summer Short-term 2017 Student Ashley Pascual’s Insights on the Tea Ceremony

KCP’s Summer Short-term 2017 student, Ashley Pascual, shares her insights on the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Thanks, Ashley!

I have witnessed the tea ceremony quite a few times in the past few years. At some point the numbing pain of seiza became more bearable, and one could start to tell the difference between the methods of the Urasenke school and, for example, the Sekishuu or Omotesenke schools.

Getting into the Zen spirit.

But there was something about the experience through KCP that had its own way of being memorable.

In the US it’s difficult to find the meditation garden that leads into the main tea room. The concept of preparing your mind and spirit prior to the ceremony can be read from a book, but you can’t truly understand it until you’ve actually done it. And while it is one thing to observe the practice from a distance as it happens to those with experience, it feels as if another dimension has been added when you personally have the chance to politely accept the bowl, and taste of the wagashi that’s been carefully chosen to align with the theme of the event, the current season, and the bitterness of the tea.

From a distance the tea ceremony may seem delicate, light, or simple. In certain ways, yes, it is meant to capture the simplicity of life and give one a chance to admire nature and other pieces we may not notice in the bustle of daily life.

In sync and in perfect harmony.

But all too often, we take for granted the great amount of time, dedication, and detail given attention to even the smallest part of the practice.

Things such as the kimono, the scroll hung on the wall, or even the lone piece decorating the tokonoma all play an important role in the Japanese tradition. The tea ceremony itself may not be thought of instantly by some when it comes to Japanese culture, but this is a very lively practice that has been a key facilitator in some of the greatest moments of Japanese history.

See more photos at KCP Flickr.