Day 3 started with a huge shock as I was bombarded with Japanese grammar rules and vocabulary. Masu, te, ta forms and so on (i was going insane already). But I was still really excited that day because we were going for a tea ceremony at the Urasenke Chado research centre (located near Hoonji temple), which was organised by the university. The tea ceremony showcases the epitome of Japanese hospitality.
We were given an unlimited bus pass (500 yen, really useful if you’re planning on taking more than 2 bus rides that day), which we didn’t end up using because we thought we were just supposed to show it to the driver, when in fact we were supposed to slot it through a machine to print the date on it. The driver didn’t care to correct us though (yay free bus ride). In front of the centre there was a large, beautiful pagoda/ structure thing.
Before the ceremony, we were given a mini lecture on the cultural significance of the tea ceremony and the importance of green tea in Japanese culture. They also explained the set up, where you are first supposed to gaze and reflect upon the meaning of the scroll before looking at the flower vase, which is meant to remind you of the season at the time. The emptiness of the room also add to its peacefulness.
After the lecture one of the members of the research centre held a demonstration of the ceremony for us. It was really fascinating to see her carry out the ceremony with grace and care, with each step full of meaning.
She then showed us the proper way of stirring the matcha in order to obtain a rich, thick and creamy consistency. Apparently there’s a certain trick to doing it (which I did not get at all, you’ll see the results later).
Then it was our turn! We were handed traditional Japanese sweets called wagashi to eat along with the bitter tea.
We were then handed the matcha along with the whisk. Mine did not turn out as creamy as hers, but it still looked absolutely delicious. Although it looks pretty, matcha is not for everyone. If you’re not used to it, you won’t like it as it is really, really bitter. The wagashi help mask the bitterness though, and I thought it was really nice eaten together.
We then toured the chado exhibit in the building, where I failed to see the ‘no photographs’ sign and got scolded by a very angry old lady.
My friends and I then headed towards kawaramachi, a popular shopping area to find something to eat. That’s where I found this extremely cute daifuku that I just had to buy (it’s not just cute, it’s kawaii)
We then walked around until we found a ramen restaurant, where they served ramen with 5 levels of spiciness. It was pretty great, but I can’t remember the name of the restaurant.
I felt really accomplished that day, both because I took part in the tea ceremony and because that was the first time I ate at a Japanese restaurant in Japan (I spent the previous 2 days eating 7/11 and school canteen food for various reasons). It’s these little bits of happiness I’ll never forget.