Tea Ceremony Demonstration - Omote Senke

Attendees at the GKC 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. Yoko 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.

Tea Ceremony Demonstration - Edo Senke

Festival attendees have the unique opportunity to learn about the intricacies of tea ceremony from Yuri and Hitoshi Iijima. While observing the tea ceremony, the symbolism and intent of the movements and materials will be explained in English along with important historical insights. Select Japanese phrases will also be introduced. A few audience members will be selected to participate in the tea ceremony on stage and will be guided in how to receive tea.

Brief History of Japanese Tea

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.