Photographer's Note

My daughter stayed for one year in Japan. When visiting her host family, we were invited to a tea ceremony.

My apologies to Japanese Trekearth people: I know I’m simplifying but its very difficult, while just a tourist, to grab the whole ritual and meaning of a Japanese tea ceremony.

At its most basic, the tea ceremony involves the preparation and serving of tea to guests in a tea room or tea house.
The host wears a kimono, while guests may wear kimono or formal wear.
Both tea houses and tea rooms are usually small, a typical floor size being 4 1/2 tatami, or woven mats of straw, the traditional Japanese floor covering.
The host will first serve small sweets. Sweets are eaten from special paper called kaishi.
Each utensil - including the tea bowl, whisk, and tea scoop - is then ritually cleaned in the presence of the guests in a precise order and using prescribed motions. The utensils are placed in an exact arrangement according to the ritual being performed. When the ritual cleaning and preparation of the utensils is complete, the host will place a measured amount of green tea powder in the bowl and add the appropriate amount of hot water, then whisk the tea using precise movements.
Conversation is kept to a minimum throughout. Guests relax and enjoy the atmosphere created by the sounds of the water and fire, the smell of the incense and tea, and the beauty and simplicity of the tea house.
The bowl is then served to the guest of honor (me), either by the host or an assistant. Bows are exchanged between the host and guest of honor. The guest then bows to the second guest, and raises the bowl in a gesture of respect to the host. The guest rotates the bowl to avoid drinking from its front, takes a sip, murmurs the prescribed phrase (which I didn’t understood), and then takes two or three more sips before wiping the rim, rotating the bowl to its original position, and passing it to the next guest with a bow. The procedure is repeated until all guests have taken tea from the same bowl, and the bowl is returned to the host. In some ceremonies, each guest will drink from an individual bowl, but the order of serving and drinking is the same. We were doing the latter.
After all the guests have taken tea, the host cleans the utensils in preparation for putting them away. The guest of honor will request that the host allows the guests to examine the utensils, and each guest in turn examines and admires each item, including the water scoop, the tea caddy, the tea scoop, the tea whisk, and, most importantly, the tea bowl. The items are treated with extreme care as they may be priceless, irreplaceable, handmade antiques, and guests often use a special brocaded cloth to handle them.
The host then collects the utensils, and the guests leave the tea house. The host bows from the door, and the ceremony is over. A tea ceremony can last between one hour and four to five hours, depending on the type of ceremony performed, and the types of meal and tea served

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Additional Photos by Alfred Wilms (Praetzer) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 349 W: 127 N: 332] (2377)
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