Century Old Japanese Tea Ceremony Connects East and West

Visitors to the Portland Japanese Garden are not only surrounded by one of the finest gardens, they are welcomed to view a century old traditional tea ceremony called Chado, The Way of Tea. The ceremony was established in Japan over 150 years ago and held regularly in the Kashintei Tea House in the tea garden.

Docent is explaining the process of the tea ceremony.

Docent is explaining the process of the tea ceremony.

The ceremony’s slow pace is quite foreign to today’s generation. The message here is to live in this moment as it was meant to be. Slow down and enjoy the many elements that make this ceremony so special.

 

There is a traditionally dressed docent present during the ceremony who will explain what is happening throughout the exhibition and visitors are encouraged to ask questions. All participants are dressed in traditional Japanese ensembles.

 

Tea serving is not rushed and the gathering is not intended as an opportunity to chat. Rather, the focus is to be quietly one with your surroundings. The host’s guests will enjoy the simplicity of their setting, a sweet treat and specially prepared matcha tea.

 

The docent shared that; “traditionally there is no talking or conversation during ceremony, unless it is about something philosophical.”

 

Guests sit on special bamboo matting on the floor, there will be a flower arrangement or an art piece and a scroll on the wall. The sweet treat and other elements will change with the seasons.

 

Tea ceremonies often consist of a host/hostess and 2 to 3 guests. If there is a large group the hostess will have assistants to help serve. It is often thought of as an event that only women take part in, but that is not true. It is just as much for men as it is for women. The early historical ceremonies were for the emperor or other elite guests.

Tea House, notice the simplicity, the flowers and the scrolls.

Tea House, notice the simplicity, the flowers and the scrolls.

Tea House is located in the Portland Japanese Garden, a beautiful way to spend the day.

Tea House is located in the Portland Japanese Garden, a beautiful way to spend the day.

The hostess is greeting her guests upon arrival to the tea house.

The hostess is greeting her guests upon arrival to the tea house.

This elegant yet simple practice reflects the philosophy of the four principles of Tea:

Harmony: Wa – Respect: Kei – Purity: Sei – Tranquility: Jaku

 

This teahouse and ceremony provides a unique opportunity for visitors to observe the striking differences between Eastern and Western history and cultures. The preparing and serving of the tea is a form of fine art as well as a spiritual discipline. The values shared are familiar: caring, warmth, bonding, but how they are expressed is radically different. The ceremony is less about the drinking of the tea and more about the experience of how it is prepared, served and shared.

 

Garden visitors can observe the tea ceremony on the third Saturday of each month from April through October at 1 pm and 2 pm. For a complete list of garden hours and admission prices – click here. The tea ceremony and many other special events held at the garden are included with admission. To learn about other events click here.

 

The Portland Japanese Garden provides a great service to its visitors, awakening a new understanding through this rare experience.

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