How a Formal Tea Gathering is Conducted

Want to learn how a formal tea gathering, also called Chaji (茶事) is conducted?

In Chaji, the guests first enter the waiting room. Leaving their belongings (coat, bag, ect.) that are not used during Chaji in the waiting room, the guests then move to the waiting bench. Normally the bench is situated in the tea garden. When all the guests arrive at the waiting bench, the host shows up and greets the guests. The guests purify their hands and mouth at Tsukubai (蹲), then enter the main tearoom.

The guests first take a close look at the scroll hung on the alcove, next the kettle, then are seated. The host serves a light meal called Kaiseki (懐石). With Kaiseki, a little of sake is served as well. Depending upon the season, the host replenishes char coal before or after the meal. After the meal, the host serves the guests some sweets called Namagashi (生菓子). After enjoying the Namagashi, guests leave the tearoom and wait outside, sitting on the same bench, enjoying the garden.

While the guests wait outside, the host removes the scroll from the alcove and displays flowers instead. S/he also brings in a cold-water container and a tea container filled with thick green tea. When ready, the host rings a gong called Dotaku (銅鐸). Hearing the sound of the gong, the guests return to the tearoom.

After the guests are seated again in the tearoom, the host comes in and serves thick tea. It’s still a green tea, but very thick, almost paste. After serving the thick tea, the host shows the guests the thick tea container and its cover and the tea scoop. The guests have an opportunity to take a closer look at these utensils one by one. Later the guests ask the host more details about them, such as where they are made who made them, if there is a particular name. The host carries away all the tea utensils used.

The host enters again, refills the charcoal to make sure the water in the kettle is kept warm. Then the host brings in and serves another kind of sweets, normally called Higashi (干菓子). After the Higashi, the host brings in a set of tea utensils, and serves thin tea. The guests enjoy the thin tea, and have an opportunity to take a closer look at the thin tea container.

After the host carries away all the tea utensils and saying goodbye to the guests, the guests appreciate the kettle and the scroll on more time, and leave the tearoom.

The host may not see off the guest leave physically. S/he may want to sit in the tearoom alone quietly, favorably remembering the time s/he spent together with the guests, or wondering if the guests returned to their homes safely, while serving him/herself a bowl of tea and enjoying by him/herself.

The whole procedure of Chaji usually takes 3-4 hours.

This video created for Japan Week this fall shows you the overview.  Enjoy!

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