Let’s start with a “fun fact” about me – I taught English online and my students were…..*drumroll please* ….. Japanese!
One of the most educated people in matters of tea – their traditional tea ceremony is actually called The Way Of Tea – so they must know a lot about it, right?
My students had the possibility to choose “free speech” classes where would talk about different topics, often letting me choose it – which is hard sometimes, you know?
The obvious conversation topic was Tea (and animé, Pokémon, or their notorious trade island – Okinawa); but mostly tea.
Some of my students saw me interested in their ceremonies so they decided to share with me an old festival that is still ongoing.
Hanami – the flower viewing festival happens when the Sakura trees are in full bloom. People go out to park and have a picnic under the beautiful cherry blossom trees, listen to music, eat and drink freshly brewed matcha (powdered green tea). Of course, youngsters drank sake but tradition is to drink the tea.
So we had our Skype lesson and I could see all these people running around with their tea bowls under the trees. When I asked why I discovered the spiritual part of the festival.
If a cherry blossom flower fell in your green tea bowl, you would have good luck and years full of posterity – of course, it had to fall accidentally, but people still chased them.
Mr. S said that if you accidentally found the flower in your bowl, it’s flavor would blend with the freshly brewed tea and would taste as “heaven on earth, as you Europeans would say Alexandra sensei”.
I was impressed by how much confidence they have that tea purifies mind, soul, and body and have so many festivals to praise this magical brew.
I will cover some of the traditions inside tea houses in Osaka with their gracious gheishas as hostesses and how tea is again the main attraction – but that’s a story for another time.
I wish I still had the photos of the Hanami I witnessed, but even though I lost them, I invite you to see these few photos I gathered for you, as being the closest to what I have seen.
Until next time!