This is a special opportunity to see the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony performed by a Japanese Tea Master whose training started in Kyoto as a young child.

The Tea Ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a traditional Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. In Japan, the tea is called chanoyu or chado.

The formal Japanese Tea Ceremony is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of the tea utensils is considered from the guest’s point of view (angle).

The Japanese tea ceremony developed as a “transformative practice,” and began to evolve its own aesthetic, in particular that of “wabi-sabi.” “Wabi” represents the inner, or spiritual, experiences of human lives. Its original meaning indicated quiet or sober refinement, or subdued taste characterized by humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism, profundity, imperfection and asymmetry, emphasizing simple, unadorned objects and architectural space, and celebrating the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials. “Sabi,” on the other hand, represents the outer, or material side of life. Originally, it meant “worn,” “weathered” or“decayed.”

By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan. Sen no Rikyu and his work Southern Record, perhaps the most well-known – and still revered – historical figure in tea ceremony, followed his master Takeno Jōō’s concept of ichi-go ichi-e, a philosophy that each meeting should be treasured, for it can never be reproduced. His teachings perfected many newly developed forms in architecture and gardens, art, and the full development of the Way of Tea. The principles he set forward – harmony (和 wa), respect (敬 kei), purity (清 sei), and tranquility (寂 jaku) – are still central to the tea ceremony as it is performed today.

Tea Ceremony Demonstration

Attendees at the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival will have the opportunity to witness, and several attendees will have the opportunity to participate in, a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. The Tea Master who will perform this beautiful and special ceremony is Ms. Hiraoka who is a native of Kyoto, Japan and who currently resides in Colorado. Ms. Hiraoko will perform the Tea Ceremony dressed in a formal Kimono. Attendees will all have the opportunity to learn about the history and practice of the Tea Ceremony.

Yoko Hiraoka, a native of Japan, began her study of the Japanese Tea Ceremony at the age of 14 in the Ura-senke style, later moving to the Omote-senke tradition in Kyoto Japan. Her core training took place in Shõgaku-ji Temple in Hyogo prefecture. She is an Omote-senke licensed teacher with the tea name: ‘Sôrei’, meaning ‘Clear Awareness’.

She now teaches tea from her home in Colorado where she has a traditional tea garden and teahouse named ‘Busshin-an’ (House of Buddha’s Heart). She is also a senior master performer/teacher of classical Koto, Biwa, and Shamisen.

 

Japanese Tea

Come to this special program about Japanese Tea. Dr. Mizumura, assistant director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas (KU), earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology at KU. She also has a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Oregon.

She was born in Saitama, Japan. Her research interests are interracial marriage, the sociology of Japan, Asian military wives, and globalization in East Asia. She has taught numerous courses on contemporary East Asia across the disciplines at KU, focusing on Japan.

Along with teaching, she manages the new M.A. program in Contemporary East Asian Studies that the Center for East Asian Studies at KU offers starting in the 2014-2015 academic year. Beyond her academic life, she practices the Japanese tea ceremony in Lawrence with Dale Slusser, a master of the urasenke school of the tea ceremony. She also is owner and proprietor of bimi, a local Lawrence bakery specializing in Japanese sweets.

 

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