Japanese Tea Ceremony performed by Enshu Sado School
The Wagashi sweets
Next, it is time for the tea ceremony. The Wagashi sweets, named hatsuyuki – “first snow” – was made especially for this day.
Eating the sweet before drinking the tea serves to enhance the flavor of the tea through the faint sweetness that lingers in the mouth.
The originator of the Enshū Sado (Tea) School was the feudal lord Kobori Enshū
(1579-1647), who became known as the greatest tea master of the Kan’ei era, in the early 17th century.
He was also close friends with Ichijō Ekan and Ikenobō Senkō II.
The hospitality —omotenashi— of tea tradition is concealed in the procedure of tea preparation.
One aspect of it is the act of purifying the utensils.
Through the act of purifying, the host cleanses his own mind and spirit.
This also serves to gradually cleanse the feelings of the guests who watch attentively.
Taking the utmost care in selecting just the right combination of utensils is another aspect of omotenashi.
A careful selection is made with due consideration of all elements of the gathering, from the location, to the participants, to the season.
The frame of the hearth is made from old wood from Katsura Rikyū Imperial Villa,
in a reference to Ichijō Ekan’s uncle, Prince Hachijōnomiya Toshihito
(1579-1629), who constructed the Katsura Palace.
The poetic name of this tea container, “Tsuruoka,” alludes to the Tsuruoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura, where the event is being held.
The tea bowl was commissioned from Korea by Kobori Enshū, the tea master who developed a form of practice incorporating gracefulness and simplicity that is known as kirei-sabi.
The thin tea service
The host provides thin tea as an opportunity for the guests to enjoy a moment of relaxation after the anticipation of the thick tea service has reached its peak.
In contrast to the koicha session, each guest receives a separate bowl of usucha.
Special items conveying the friendships of 400 years ago greet the guests.
Kobori Enshū made the bamboo vase himself by hand and presented it to Ichijō Ekan’s elder brother, Emperor Gomizuno’o.
Enshū also sent this letter of invitation to Ikenobō Senkō II.
“Tomorrow morning, Mr. Itakura of the Kyoto governor’s office will be coming. If you have time, won’t you stop by and join us?”
We can imagine what it must have been like for the people who gathered at this mountain retreat to pass the time together appreciating beautiful things in times past.
And lastly, to the luncheon seating.
Their hearts united through tea, the guests now enjoy a meal together.
The traditional Japanese meal
Auspicious foods such as kelp-cured snapper and lobster soup suggest long life.
Puffed gluten in the shape of maple leaves, along with chestnuts, gingko nuts and other seasonal ingredients highlight the autumn season.
Today was a beautiful moment created out of the intersections of flowers and tea, host and guests.
Thus comes to an end this special day that transcended time and space.