Seasonal Tea Ceremonies in Japan
Jars Get Opened
Traditionally, the yearly cycle of the Japanese tea ceremony begins in November. It is considered that tea leaves collected during springtime and stored in special clay jars during summer and the first months of fall by this time are ready for grinding.
In November the containers are gallantly opened. Alongside with this, old tatamis are changed to new ones, bamboo fences in gardens are fixed, all worn-out, broken things get repaired. Tea ceremonies are especially festive at this time.
On December 31 the farewell kettle boiling rite is held. The rite is called "zeuyagama".
First Water Boiling
At the beginning of January friends are invited to the tea ceremony, and teachers and students get together to celebrate the first water boiling for tea of the new year.
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The beginning of February falls on the start of spring according to the old Lunar calendar. However it is too early to say spring. The weather is quite cold, and sunny days are rare. During this month in the morning they hold tea ceremonies known as akatsuki.
At the beginning of March, when the plum tree shoots its white blossoms, it is now that the arrival of spring is celebrated. Usually this corresponds with the puppet festival held on March, 3.
Tea ceremonies of April are all about cherry blossom time. But cherry blooming is fast, and is quickly forgotten. The rest of the year traditionally they don't speak about it anymore.
May is the month when the drink is brewed from the leaves of freshly collected tea. From May till November the Japanese remove the fireplace from inside the tea house. Instead, they use portable fire basket. Secret ceremonies are dedicated to this. They are named "seburo" which means "new fire basket".
During hot and stuffy evenings of June simplified ceremonies are organized. They are called "uza-ri".
July and August are the hottest months. Tea ceremonies named "asachi" are held early in the morning, before 6 a.m.
In September the weather gets cooler, and tea ceremonies can be held both in the open air and inside.
In October tea ceremonies are called "nagori-no-cha", which menas "leaf tea". The Japanese say goodbye to autumn, drinking the last matcha tea.
Why So Much Fuss
This variety of ways to drink tea may seem confusing and complex, but it gets clearer if you consider the aspiration to make things simple and natural. You tend to protect yourself from cold and bad weather and enjoy warm and nice days. Just the same, the pursuit of harmony brings the people of Japan to move outside in great weather and avoid chill and rain inside the walls.
Unlike the Japanese, other nations do not go that much into detail. Besides, it's not only tea you need, but a special tea garden and a tea house, too. So, if you want to drink tea like the Japanese do, go to Japan.
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© 2014 Anna Sidorova
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