Three students from the Urasenke Foundation kindly demonstrated and explained all the Japanese tea ceremony's details. There was so much interest that there were not enough seats available for everyone. We were happy to sit and listen on the floor. We all learnt that there is so much more to the ceremony than the drinking of tea. Humility is an especially important part of the process.
Our presenter kindly explained that the Japanese word "Chado" is formed of two parts. "Cha" means "tea"; "do" means "way" or "path". The Chado ceremony thus comes to mean "the way of tea".
Guests have to crawl through a small entrance to enter the tea house. The entrance is just 72cms in height. The need to crawl into the tea house is supposed to remind guests to be humble and show humility towards everyone inside. No matter how powerful you are, you are still expected to show an attitude of humility towards your host and other guests. Even a great Samurai warrior would have been expected to remove his weapons on entry and crawl inside.
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The guests bow to thank their host for the tea and show their appreciation before drinking. It is very important to pass the tea bowl with the front facing forwards. We saw how the tea bowl was turned in drinking, as passed between host and guest and returned after drinking by the guests to the host.
If you are ever invited into a tea house in Japan, you are expected to be humble. You should not wear any jewellery at all. No watches either. You should put any jewellery or watches away in a pocket out of sight. You should be mindful of your five senses and enjoy the beauty of nature. You should not wear any strong perfume or aftershave as this would destroy the atmosphere.
Our presenter answered various questions from the fascinated audience at the end. She described how the tea's taste might appear bitter at first, before a fuller flavour comes through as with coffee.