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A tea ceremony in Shinsyu

2016.02.19

I received an invitation to a ‘Mihashira casual tea ceremony’ from my old friend whom I know for a half of century, a Japanese gardener and garden designer, Motomi Oguchi. This tea ceremony was associated with Mihashira festival *2, which is held once every 7years in Suwa shrine. On 7th of February, a warm day for winter, guests were entertained with Koicha, Usucha, Amacha, Sake, and light meals in both tearoom in Shoin style and a teahouse in Souan style with Roji *3.

The teahouse was originally built in old house nearby Hirano Shrine at the south of Kinkakuji in Kyoto in 1918. Afterwards, in 1988, architectural experts from Kyoto moved the building to Mr.Oguchi’s garden. Expert such as post and beam builder, roofer, plasterer, tatami workman and fusuma mounter joined the reconstruction of this teahouse. Mr.Oguchi kept a record of their name.

It was less cold than I expected in that day. First of all, we were served with Amachya at Shoin. As it was casual, relaxed gathering, I sit cross-legged not in seiza style and enjoyed the taste of tea. Then we moved to the teahouse passing through the Roji garden. While enjoying koicha inside the room admiring interiors, I was impressed with the beauty of kimonos of ladies and their gestures through the ceremony. Mr.Oguchi’s disciples and a disciple of disciple came all the way from Gifu and Shiga prefecture to serve the tea. Mr.Oguchi showed his collections of tools for tea ceremony. His easygoing personality made us relaxed even though tea ceremony tends to be formal in general. Again, we moved back to Shoin having Usucha, chatting about tea ceremony culture. I confirmed my belief that Japanese landscape architect needs to know about our tradition and history to create better design.

 Lastly when time for drink and meal came, I became chatty, having joyful conversation with charming ladies about my journeys from garden to garden with Mr.Oguchi.

Yoshiki Toda

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