Thursday, September 18, 2014

Aki Matsuri Tea Ceremony by Omotesenke Izumikai

Tea ceremony demonstrations were held both days of the first weekend in September at Aki Matsuri in Bellevue.  Saturday's demonstration was Urasenke and Sunday's demonstration was Omotesenke, representing the two largest schools of tea ceremony in Japan.

I was able to attend the demonstration on Sunday, presented by Omotesenke Izumikai.

As a student of Urasenke tea ceremony, I was curious to see the differences and similarities between the two schools.  The basic temae (steps/ritual) is similar with only a few minor differences.  Since I couldn't clearly see the temae, I was only able to see a couple differences including the light snap of the fukusa before it is folded, shorter movements in the temae, the bowl is rolled in the host's hands to warm it after water has been added, and the whisking time is shorter.

The fukusa (silk cloth) is used for purifying tea utensils before and after tea is prepared.  When not in use, it hangs from the host's obi (sash).  In Omotesenke, the fukusa will only be orange if the host is female or purple if the host is male.  Urasenke encourages the use of the same colors, though other colors are permissible.

At the conclusion of the tea ceremony, the host will clean the tea utensils in front of the guest, rather than taking them away to the kitchen.  This indicates to the guest that, while they may be leaving, everything is prepared for their return.

Following the tea ceremony, people in the audience could enjoy sweets with a bowl of matcha.  You can see how the shorter whisking time in the temae still creates a froth, though it is not as light and fluffy as longer whisking produces in Urasenke temae.  Both result in an equally delicious tea with a slightly differing mouth feel.

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