Last month, Japanese teacher Keiko Irino’s Japanese 2 class experienced a dose of Japanese culture on a field trip to Saratoga’s Hakone Tea Garden. After enjoying the spring blossoms over o-bento, traditional boxed lunch, the students purified themselves in a ritualistic washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth called tsukubai before entering the tea room.
The students sat seiza style on the tatami mat and watched as the teishu – host – served Japanese sweets and omatcha, tea typically served during a tea ceremony. A few students said the tea was a little bitter, but the sweets were very delicious.
Afterward, the host showed the students the tools used in the tea ceremony and her assistant talked about the history of the tea ceremony. “It was such a beautiful day, and we all had a very pleasant afternoon,” Irino said.