In Tokyo, I decided to organise a private tea ceremony at the Chinzanso, one of Japan’s most famous luxury hotels. I did this just to relax and purposely slow down my usually fast-paced life. After all, the tea ceremony is a social event, but it’s really all about achieving inner peace, calm and joy by observing a series of ancient rituals
There are several places in Tokyo where foreigners can book a tea ceremony experience. In my opinion, the Chinzanso offers one of the best tea ceremony experiences because you can actually have the ceremony in one of a handful of historical tea houses on the estate.
THE ORIGINS OF TEA
The one I chose for my tea ceremony experience is a listed cultural heritage property that was modeled after the tea house of Sen no Rikyu himself. Sen no Rikyu is the father of the tea ceremony in Japan. Everything connected with him is treated with great reverence.
To start things off the tea ceremony, I had to go through a routine of cleansing to enter the tea house. So I washed my hands at a fountain right outside the tea house. After removing my shoes, I kneeled and worked my way into the tea house, where the tea mistress had prepared a lovely scroll and a vase of flowers for the occasion. Even the tea bowls used were chosen with thought.
The scroll for the ceremony yesterday said something about a chance meeting of significance, that is never coming again. I guess what it’s trying to say is that you should appreciate each moment because it’s special, and not live a life of missed opportunities.
ONE OF LIFE’S SPECIAL EXPERIENCES
Indulge in a special kind of afternoon tea by booking a traditional Japanese tea demonstration at the famed Zangetsu tea house in one corner of the estate. The tea ceremony, an art form with over 1,000 years of history, is at the very essence of Japanese hospitality, and central to the philosophy of zen.
Meanwhile, the Zangetsu is an authentic tea house that is registered as a tangible cultural asset of Japan. It was originally built on Baron Fujita’s property in Hakone before being transferred to Chinzanso in 1947.
The tea ceremony at the Chinzanso is performed in the Omotesenke style by serious tea practitioners with over 10 years of experience.
ABOUT CHINZANSO IN TOKYO
Chinzanso was created out of a lovely rambling estate owned by many prominent men. It’s dotted with hills, brooks, ponds and tea houses. The last master of chinzanso was Baron Fujita, and his former residence was reportedly a mansion the size of five tennis courts.
Because of its unusually picturesque surroundings in the middle of a bustling city, it’s the wedding venue of choice for every bride who can afford to get married there. As you can imagine, spacious luxury is not cheap.
Where to spend the summer in Tokyo
It’s also a perfect summer escape. But it’s equally lovely when the cherry blossoms and azalea are blooming in the spring, or when the fall leaves are out in breathtaking splendor in the autumn.
in the summer, the main pathways through the gardens are strung with glass bells that gaily chime in the wind, giving you a feeling of coolness, even where there is none. Together with the sounds of the brooks that run through the estate and greenery that has been around for at least 800 years, it truly is a rare oasis amidst a concrete jungle.