TRAVEL JAPAN – The Tea Ceremony

10 Jan

One of the prime things I wanted to redo in Japan was the tea ceremony. Esprit travel arranged for me to attend the tea ceremony at Daitokuji Monastery.

First we went to a sub temple, Zuiho-in for an informal tea ceremony with the Abbot. It was another couple and me and our tour guides. My guide Kiyo interpreted.

Here is a photo of the Abbott. No photos are allowed during the tea ceremony.

The Abbot at Zuiho-in

The calligraphy and flower arrangement chosen for that day.

Besides the historic, cultural, beautiful and spiritual aspects, well probably because of the spiritual aspects: it is fun.

The Abbott is totally present and humorous. After serving us our tea sweets that he made with a nattokinase center, he told us about his daily routine. He rises early and chants for half an hour, then he does housework for two hours and then tea cermony and Abbot duties.

He suggested we get rid of our couches. Kiyo told me he is against them. I guess to prevent ‘couch potatoism.’

I told him if I got rid of my couch, my husband would be sitting on it.

He said I needed to make sure my husband took ten deep breaths before I served him breakfast. I didn’t tell him that I don’t serve him breakfast. He told me that I wield the ‘stick’ in our relationship. You could have fooled me.

I know what stick he is talking about. Once before when I was there, the Abbott showed our group the stick they use to whack monks who fall asleep during services. He showed us how placing the stick at your back induces good posture.

Now this Abbot he looks terrific. He asked how old I was and I gave him the age I felt, (jet lag and all), 135.

He is in his 80’s. He attributes it to the respiratory benefits of chanting and all that exhaling.

He admired my Japanese mulberry socks. I told him my grandchildren wanted them but I said no and kept them for myself.

Kiyo told me, he suggested that she take me to a certain temple. We went there but it was closed. Kiyo told me they serve a special Japanese desert there. I never got back to try it but I did buy some chocolate mochi on Saturday, in case that took care of whatever experience the Abbot suggested for me.

Zuiho-in has beautiful gardens, including this dry garden.

The gravel is meant to simulate water.

This garden has references to the cross and Christianity. This temple was founded by the “Christian Lord,” Lord Otomo Sorin.

And a new bathroom with a toilet seat that lifts up as you enter. It has all the amenities and even an uneven floor to massage your feet as you walk on it.

And fragrant plants outside the window.


The Abbot chose a blue lacquered tea bowl for my matcha. He picks a unique bowl for each participant. Usually it is tied to the seasons.

It was a deep navy blue color. I never have seen one like it. The Abbot asked me why I was there and I said I wanted to return to Japan before I was too old to get back there. My trip was consumately satisfying. I am content.


Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Abundance, Japan, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “TRAVEL JAPAN – The Tea Ceremony

  1. picperfic

    January 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    What an interesting blog post…I feel calmer just reading it! Thank you for visiting my blog too.

  2. Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds

    January 11, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Calm yet still able to wield a stick. That’s awesome!

  3. Holly

    January 11, 2011 at 4:57 am

    I love your Japan travel posts. I must get over there some day. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I’d love to see kind of a summary post of your top 10 places to go, things to do, or things to eat in Japan, so someone who is planning a first trip can pick and choose from there and get an idea of some of the best things to do.

  4. Angelia Sims Hardy

    January 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Wow, that is so cool! A floor that massages your feet?? Ohhhh yeaaah..

    What a beautiful zen garden and pictures. I just think your trip was wonderful. I love hearing about it. 🙂

  5. Petty Witter

    January 12, 2011 at 2:48 am

    How interesting, I always thought a tea ceremony was performed by women.

    I can remember Husband dearest commenting on the toilets during his travels in Japan – that and the beds.

    • purplume

      January 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      The last two times I had tea at this same temple, it was prepared by a beautiful woman in kimono. I think this was a higher honor to have the abbot and I think originally it was done only by men.
      I sleep very well on the futons on the floor. I doubt I could persuade my husband to join me however. XD

  6. Jen C.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:59 am

    I’m so glad you got to experience the tea ceremony. It’s one of my favorite thing about the traditional Japanese culture. The care and the thought put into the entire ceremony is just beautiful and it makes you feel so honored to have been able to witness it. I’ve only been to two since moving here four years ago. It’s something you can never forget after having experienced it.

    I’m glad that your Japan adventure was so unique and interesting. I think that the fact you embraced the culture with enthusiasm and with such an open mind that it made your trip even more enjoyable. It makes reading your blog posts about Japan so much more enjoyable for me too because it reminds me of the joys that I found living here.

    By the way, that photo of the toilet at the end cracked me up. It seemed so out of place because it’s so modern compared to everything else but yet it’s so Japanese 🙂

  7. Elaine

    January 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Jean – I am so glad you got a chance to visit with the Abbott and your time in Japan has left you content. Greater peace through travel… EB

  8. Bec

    January 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

    What a neat experience! I love anything that is steeped in history and tradition. What great memories you seem to have made 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s