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Rotating the bowl in drinking Japanese tea has my brain rotated

August 12, 2011 7 comments

I, as I said, am a member of voluntary guides around the place where I live. The group has been keeping exchanges with other guides’ groups in other areas. A session was just held last July, in which volunteers in Inuyama took us a guided tour. This time, let me show you one topic from the tour: not detailed but minimal ways to drink Japanese traditional tea.

I just made sure correct and polite procedures on drinking Japanese tea before writing this article. Let me say I’m sorry at first. I just gave up reading articles explaining the proper ways to drink Japanese tea. You find it difficult to understand all of them. The processes are so many and complicated. Moreover, there are a lot of traditions on how to drink Japanese traditional tea, and the various traditions have different styles. I ended up making it simple.

First, you need to make sure which side of the plates and the bowls that you are given to is the frontside, which is called sho-men in Japanese. Basically, the side that you are facing at the first time when the hosts serve is the frontside of the plates or the bowls. Hosts show you the frontside so that you enjoy appreciating it. The thing is that the frontside of the plates or the bowls is just the spot you appreciate, but the one you put to your lips. What should I do, then?

You need to hold up the bowl with your right hand, and cradle the bottom of the bowl with your left hand. Now, the frontside of the bowl is looking at your face. Rotate the bowl in clockwise direction. Two times at a right angle. The frontside of the bowl and your face should be pointing out in the same direction. Now is the time you sipped. ‘Bottoms up!’ is the worst choice you make. The word ‘sip’ is an absolutely adequate expression while you are drinking Japanese traditional tea.

After you finish drinking the tea, you have to rotate the bowl again: two times at a right angle in counterclockwise. Then, the frontside of the bowl should come back to you and smile at you calmly. You can appreciate the beauty of the craftsmanship of the bowl again. After that, rotate the bowl again so that you show the host the frontside, and put it down on the floor. With some words like ‘gochisousamadeshita‘, your exotic adventure will finish. (As a matter of fact, I just omitted several processes from the proper ways. I think you should copy the ways that someone else is doing at the time you try it in real.)

You can taste some Japanese cake when you drink Japanese traditional tea. Make sure which the frontside of it is.
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This is the tea that I tasted in Inuyama.
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I’m just indicating the directions in which you have to rotate before/after you sipping tea. I showed you wrong information before. I corrected it.
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This tea ceremony house is designated as the national treasure in Japan.
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The tea ceremony house has a beautiful garden around it.
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I would like you to appreciate the sounds that waterdrops make. This musical instrument is called suikinkutsu, under which a porcelain bin is buried and it echoes with waterdrops. The sounds will make you relieved.
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