Traditional Tea in Beautiful Kyoto
Journalists and other visitors to the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival were treated to the quintessential Kyoto experience when they were invited to the Saka Maruyama tea house on Saturday, October 13rd.
The tea house is hidden away on a stone-lined path leading through the beautiful Maruyama Park. The park is just behind Yasaka Shrine, and Saka Maruyama makes its tea with fresh water from a well on the grounds of the shrine.
Guest were able to choose from “matcha,” made from powered green tea, or the rarer “sencha” which is made from full tea leaves. Their tea was then made in a highly-stylize fashion, with attention to small details as well as the overall flow of the preparation.
The tea master explained some of the basics of the tea ceremony in Japanese, which was interpreted into English. The ceremony is carefully designed to reflect the current season and stimulate all five senses.
But not too much was explained, since the thinking is that something does not need to be fully explained or fully understood in order to be experienced and enjoyed. The tea house is a place to forget about outside worries. The ceremony itself is never rushed, taking over 20 minutes on this occasion. For many of the guests, this was a unique, one-time experience. For people who practice the tea ceremony seriously, it becomes an important part of their lives over many years.
The tea party was one of the ways that KIFF is more than just a film and art festival, but a package of experiences with deep ties to the host city.
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