Learning tea ceremony in Japan with a tea master
Photo by Ichinari Sensei

Learning tea ceremony in Japan with a tea master

THE Kansai Area is renowned for its blend of modernity and tradition. After leaving Nara, we set out for Hirakata, the location of Ichinari Sensei's residence and school. His home, tucked away in a peaceful residential area, radiated an air of classic sophistication, perfect for our little tea ceremony.

In our quest for an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind experience, my sister and I discovered a rare chance to study the nuances of tea ceremony with a highly esteemed Tea Ceremony Master.

What sets Ichinari Sensei's class apart is not merely the act of observing a tea ceremony, but the rare chance to learn the art firsthand. Priced at 11,900 yen per person, it proved to be a priceless gift for my sister, a gesture of gratitude for her generosity in covering our accommodations. (8,000 yen for the Yukata and 3,900 yen for the tea ceremony)

Mixing Matcha
Mixing MatchaPhoto by Ichinari Sensei

Upon arrival, Ichinari Sensei greeted us warmly, guiding us in the meticulous process of donning yukatas with the utmost grace and precision. As we wrapped ourselves in the traditional garments, we couldn't help but marvel at the thoughtfulness of our host – not only were we to learn, but we also got to keep the brand-new yukatas as cherished souvenirs of our experience.

Throughout the session, Ichinari Sensei emphasized the importance of elegance and balance, instilling in us not just the physical movements but also the essence of mindfulness and intentionality inherent in the tea ceremony.

Learning the art
Learning the artPhoto by Ichinari Sensei

While seated on the tatami floor, we embarked on a historical journey, following the development of tea ceremony from its simple beginnings to its present-day position as a highly esteemed art form. Every stage of its evolution—from its humble origins with a Buddhist monk to its acceptance by the Samurai and other nobles to its democratization that allowed women to participate—reflected a different aspect of Japanese culture and social mores.

Are you aware that women were finally given the opportunity to take part in and even lead tea ceremonies 50 years ago? A year later, they reached a consensus on the total number of tea ceremony masters; of those, 70% were women.

We were whisked away to a world where time stood still as we mastered the complex procedures of making and serving tea under the watchful eye of Ichinari Sensei. The tea ceremony was a nice reminder to slow down, enjoy the moment, and be present in all aspects of one's being in a culture where quick pleasure is king.

Amidst the serene ambiance, we exchanged roles, each taking turns to perform the tea ceremony for the other. It was a profound act of reciprocity, a shared journey of learning and growth bound by the threads of tradition and mutual respect.

In a digital age where every moment is captured and shared, Ichinari Sensei's insistence on being fully immersed in the experience was a refreshing departure. With cameras set aside, we embraced the simplicity of being, allowing the beauty of the moment to unfold organically.

As we bid farewell to Ichinari Sensei, the heavens opened up, showering us with. Graciously, our host appeared, offering us an umbrella to shield us from the elements, a gesture of kindness that encapsulated the spirit of hospitality ingrained in Japanese culture.

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenesPhoto by Ichinari Sensei

Reflecting on our time spent learning tea ceremony with Ichinari Sensei, I am reminded that true enrichment lies not in the accumulation of possessions but in the cultivation of meaningful experiences. In the heart of the Kansai district, amidst the whispers of tradition and the echoes of the past, Ichinari Sensei's class beckons as a timeless sanctuary for the soul, a place where the art of tea ceremony transcends mere ritual to become a profound journey of self-discovery and connection.

Visit Ichinari Sensei’s Instagram: Japanese Culture Precious Wood.

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