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23 January 2011 @ 09:32 pm
Plague and Tea  
Note: This is not about that coffeehouse we found in Hiroshima City.

softlykarou and I are currently plagued. Well, it's mostly better now, but we still have residual coughs and tiredness. It's good that Chiharu wasn't able to come for dinner, because we probably would have given her the plague too. On the other hand, we missed the enkai that Takamiya had. And both of us were invited, since they wanted to meet me. (T_T) Oh well, maybe next time.

Last weekend, we went to a tea ceremony at Shukkeien garden. They have them every month, and one of our students from our adult eikaiwa does tea ceremony as a hobby. She wasn't at this ceremony, but because of it, she gave us her tickets to attend, so we went.

It was a lot like the ceremonies I've been to before that the tea ceremony club at Chiyoda High School put on, though obviously more elaborate. The main difference was that there was one person whose entire job was explaining how the tea was prepared, what the implements being used were, and so on. All in Japanese, though I did understand a few bits. They put a black bean and an umeboshi in the tea, which meant that the taste at the bottom of the cup was excellent. The sweet beforehand was quite nice too, though we were apparently supposed to bring our own paper to put it on (at Chiyoda and the various tea we've had at temples, they provided it), though fortunately the woman next to us noticed that we didn't have any and gave us some extras from the bag she had.

The most memorable parts for me were, sadly, not really related to the actual ceremony. We were seated in rows around in the room, on strips of red cloth laid over tatami mats. The servers went from left to right, giving each person tea and moving on to the next person. For the second cup of tea, the server skipped the woman next to me and served me first, and didn't noticed until one of the other servers pointed it out. This led to a problem--he had broken the order, but he couldn't take my tea back, so after some profuse apologies he withdrew and the other server gave her a cup. It did also mean that I got to say the traditional line of お先にいただきます (osaki ni itadakimasu, literally, "I receive before [you]") to someone who wasn't softlykarou.

The other memorable part was sitting seiza. One thing I did learn, based on looking at the feet of the people in front of us, is that we're doing it wrong. When Japanese people sit seiza, they have their ankles turned out so their legs make a short triangle. When I do it, I tend to just kneel down and flatten the front of my legs and feet out against the floor. This leads to the neeed to suffle around and makes my legs fall asleep after not too long, which obviously isn't advisable. This time, I ended up shuffling after 10 minutes, with numb legs after 30 and with pins and needles after 50. Though on the other hand, I did manage to sit seiza for nearly an hour, which is an accomplishment all its own, I guess.

Sickness is back now, and I'm getting a bit too tired to write. I may have more about the three days in the city in my next entry.
 
 
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