We began with a review of the four principles of Chado, or Chanoyu for our second class on Japanese tea ceremony. I had been unable to recall all of those principles in the last blog post since taking notes and photos during the lessons are not encouraged. Total focus is demanded.
“Ichi-go Ichi-e, ONE time ONE chance,” said sensei* Atsuko Nishida-Mitchell. She was quoting the great 16th Century tea master, Sen No Rikyu who laid down the principles of what we know today as the Japanese tea ceremony. According to Rikyu, every tea ceremony had to be approached as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. And so it seemed to me, this opportunity to learn about the tea ceremony in a series of classes, the first of which took place this past weekend at the Enkyoji Buddhist Temple of Rochester.
Making matcha may appear daunting to beginners, but actually it is not that difficult. Once you have made it a few times, you might wonder why you brought yourself so late to this tea party!
When "Ochatsubo Dochu", a procession carrying the year's first harvest of tea in 18th Century Japan, would pass through a village, residents knelt on the ground as a mark of reverence. Although the respect might have been inspired by the Shogun, the beneficiary of the procession and the recipient of the tea, it would be fair to assume that some it was also evoked by the tea.
Manufacturing of fine tea is nothing less than an art. There are endless variables a tea maker has to consider at every step. The impact of sunlight is one among many variables, and the “o-oi-shi-ta” technique practiced in Japan brings it to sharp focus.