Asian Culture Club hosts tea ceremony, Kimono dressing

By Donna Lynn

           A Japanese tea ceremony and kimono dressing performance was held in the Babylon Student Center, Montauk Point Room on May 12th. The demonstration was held by the Asian Culture Club and the Long Island Chano-Yu No Kai society.

         Students participated in the tea drinking and kimono dressing. The tea ceremony and kimono dresssing was performed by three student volunteers and three Asian women , Kauri Morita, Mizuho Izubuchi and Rie Telesca.

          Morita and Professor Estuko Donnelly explained and directed the tea ceremony while Mizuho Izubuchi acted as host. Morita and the three students sat on a bamboo mat while the host sat adjacent to them.

          The students had to take off their shoes and kneel down on the mat. The host presented them with a plate of sweets. The sweets must be eaten before serving tea. The sweets are made from sugar, starch and red bean paste. The sweets are very sugary.

          The tea ceremony is very ritualistic. The host sits in front of a hot water urn called a furugama. Before beginning to serve the tea she cleans the utensils with a napkin. While cleaning the utensils, the napkin must be folded in a certain way. After cleaning, she then proceeds to scoop water from the urn into a bowl that has tea in it. She mixes it then presents it to her guests. The guest must bow and say “I am going to drink your tea”.

          Before drinking the tea the guest must turn the bowl clockwise twice then take three and a half sips. Upon doing this the guest must then turn the bowl counter clockwise two times. After drinking the tea, the guest can examine the bowl.

          The bowls used in the tea ceremony are usually very expensive and well crafted. The second guest is then presented with the tea, he must ask the guest sitting next to him if he wants the first sip. If the guest declines he then can continue with the ritual. When all the guest are finished drinking the tea they must bow to the host. The host then will proceed to clean the utensils and bowl. After this is done the guest bow to the host once again and the ceremony is complete.

          The art of the tea ceremony began in China around the Zen Monks. It was used to ward off sleepiness during meditation. The tradition was then brought to Japan in the eighth century. It was popular with the wealthy and military classes. It became more popular in the fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century it took a more modern shape under the great tea master Sen Rikyu. The tradition became known as the “Way of Tea”.

          Tea drinking went back to the concept of tea and zen. It reinforced the code of rigid self control, austere simplicity and loyalty. The “Way of Tea” became known as Bushido. Modern day tea ceremonies are not as rigid as in the past.

          The Kimono dressing performance was then explained by Telesca. Two students volunteered to be dressed in a Kimono. The Kimono is worn with the opening in the front. The left side is then folded over the right side and a thin wrap is secured around the waist. A wide sash is then wrapped around the waist and then an “obi” is wrapped around the waits.

          In Kimono dressing first the woman must put on cotton, then silk, then a kimono. Before westerners came into Japan a kimono was worn everyday. You can even go to school to learn about how to wear a Kimono and become an expert at Kimono dressing. The most formal kimono is a silk kimono. Some Japanese families have certain emblems to identify them. They will wear a silk black Kimono with white emblems.

          The tea ceremony and kimono performance was an interesting look at the rituals performed in Japan. About 30 students attended and a sample of Japanese tea was served to all.

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