Sunday, January 4, 2015
Almost a half millennium since those days, my teacher Matsumoto Sosei, the distinguished master of Japanese Tea Ceremony, here in Los Angeles, always reminds us to be cognizant of the source of the hospitality. “Appreciate first!” sensei always admonishes us when we are served the tray of sweets or a bowl of tea. We learn to kansha, to slightly raise up the tray or bowl before partaking. In Japan, bowing too low can be an insult. Even the formalities of language used in the tearoom promote gratitude: while the host offers the sweets and tea “up” to the guest, the guest receives them from “above”.
While there’s not much quantity of tea in the chawan, or furnishings in the chashitsu, amazingly, it satisfies one’s entire being to the ordinary moment.