“Tea ceremony is to appreciate now. Not the future; not the past. It is focused here, inside this bowl of tea. It is to not waste any moment.”
~Honda-san, Japan House, University of West Florida
This is in Florida. It felt like one of those kooky dreams outside of time/space boundaries: I am in Florida. I stepped into Japan. I practiced tea ceremony pre-baby. Now I have Mr. Isaac. Yet here I am, baby-less, sitting on tatami and listening to an overview of The Way of Tea. Talk about being suspended between worlds.
Japanese cedar poles soar nearly 20 feet high on either side of entrance to the 12 mat tatami room overlooking the garden. White azaleas dance in little circles in the warm afternoon sun. The sixteenth-generation tea master in Kyoto—the same one who signed my certificate—was so impressed with pictures of the adjoining tea house that he gave it an official name. The scroll with his calligraphy of this name, which means Tea House of Happiness and Virtue, is one of the treasures of the university.
A friendly girl at the grocery store complimented my Japanese gray wedge pumps with fur ankle straps. This sparked a conversation about Japanese activities at UWF. As soon as I got home I signed up for this tea demonstration. I didn’t tell anyone I studied tea yet because 1. I didn’t want to be that person at the demonstration, 2. if they asked me which procedures I know I would probably panic and forget, and 3. I couldn’t tell from the website which school of tea ceremony they follow. Turns out it’s the same—the Urasenke school.
Honda-san walked the other Americans and I through a basic ceremony, explaining how it embodies the concepts of wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (purity), and jaku (serenity or tranquility). I left feeling serene, calm. And a little lonely.
My taste of Japan
Like a diabetic in
A fragrant cake shop