The Women’s International Club, Delhi provides a unique platform for Indian women to experience various world cultures. It accepts both Indian and women from international countries, with different professional backgrounds; and organizes various activities every month related to books, cuisine, travel, and health, among others. As a recently initiated member, the first activity I attended was a Japanese Tea Ceremony organized by members of the Japan foundation, and held at the residence of Ms. Anita Dua.
Misayo San playing the Taishogoto
The audience was riveted
The ceremony was conducted by Misayo Yagi and her tea circle. An insightful commentary was given by Kana Ogi through the entire proceeding. The Tea Ceremony is a masterful work of art. For the Japanese, tea signifies a noble and almost spiritual means of connecting with one’s guests. Tea calms the mind and elevates our mundane lives. Its historical inception can be traced back to the Shogun era, where Sen no Rikyu, a Zen master, shunned the culture of wealth and showmanship in favour of a humble serving of tea; to tie the host and the guest in harmony.
Some of the utensils used for the Tea Ceremony. Each one holds significant meaning.
The ceremony begins and ends by bowing to each other
“The way of tea” is mastered over many years, with each movement signifying a particular meaning. Though the tea ceremony has seen a decline in popularity over the years; the present generation is keen to preserve its ancient culture. The ceremony I was witness to, served Usu-cha, one type of tea among hundreds (you can buy this tea by clicking here).
Wagashi sweets are served before the tea
The workshop began with Misayo San playing the captivating instrument known as Taishogoto (the instrument can be purchased here). She made a pretty picture in her traditional kimono, enchanting and graceful. A power-point presentation guided us through the history of the tea ceremony, as well as information about the utensils and movements. Misayo San ably performed the elegant ceremony alongside the presentation. Her friends and colleagues assisted her in serving the tea to three volunteers.
The bowl must be turned twice using the right hand
The tea must be sipped slowly and in quietude
The ceremony began by serving Wagashi sweets, which change according to the season and type of tea ceremony. The tea was made with macha powder from dried green tea leaves. Decorum was of utmost importance, and the host and guests bowed to each other at the beginning and end. Each tea bowl was turned turned twice by hand (from the right side) so one could avoid drinking from the “face” of the bowl. A slurping sound was made with the last sip of tea, to display appreciation, as well as to indicate that it had finished. Traditionally, the entire ceremony must be performed to pin-drop silence, to really value the task at hand.
The regular Tea Ceremony with Sencha tea
Enjoying my cup of Sencha
Once the formal tea ceremony was over, the ladies graciously performed the everyday tea ceremony with sencha tea. This one is a lot simpler and easier to fit into a busy modern life.
With Misayo San
The entire experience was enthralling. I was thoroughly impressed with my first exposure to Japanese culture; and look forward to sample more from their fascinating way of life.
With the lovely members of the SADO Tea Club
The Japan Foundation, New Delhi conducts a Japanese Language and Culture Course. They can be contacted here:
Location: 5A, Ring Road, Lajpat Nagar-IV, New Delhi-24
Experience rating: 5/5