I have joined a village culture class to learn how to conduct tea ceremonies.
I have been one of the members for 3 years now, but still pretty much a novice….
Nevertheless, it excited me to hear about having a real practice at a real tea house .
So I joined my senior members to the tour to Matsumoto city.
Right in the back of the Matsumoto Castle, there locates a small house with its teahouse settled in the garden.
This house used to be a house for a local merchant, Kisaku Ikegami.
He was a Kimono merchant in Matsumoto city in Meiji era, and had friendships with intellectuals like Masaoka Shiki, a haiku poet.
The house is where the merchant enjoyed his friendship with his intellectual friends.
Now the house have been donated to Matsumoto city , and the city maintains it.
So what is great about this Hyakuchiku-tei is that it is a real ordinary house of a hundred year old with a complete style of tea house attached in its garden.
Also, since it is maintained by the city and daily care is done by local senior citizens, you can rent the place in a surprising cost; 3,100yen/ half day for the tea house etc. with a homey assist of the local elderly citizen in charge.
After bringing in the utensils to conduct the ceremony, we walked into the tea house area pretending we are the guests, and not the ones that just before had prepared the sweets, pot, and boiling water.
Between the gate and the tea-house is a roofed bench place called Machiai, meaning a waiting place.
Can you guess from where we entered the room?
It is from a small square-cut entrance just beside the guest on the right.
Its height is about a half a tatami size, so you have to crawl in.
In fact, an entrance to a tea room is called ,”Nijiri-Guchi”, or a”crawl-in”.
Upon entering the room one by one, we bow and move to watch and appreciate the scroll painting at the alcove, the flower aranged, and the pot for boiling water, each time bowing and shifting your head slightly to show you are appreciating the objects.
After taking turns to switch from gusts to hosts, I had a honor of going through the host practise with the advice of my senior members.
” The pitcher , the tea powder pot, and the whisk have to be placed straight in line, apart from each other for about 4 tatami grains.”