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Friday, Oct. 17, 2008

Grand Tea Ceremony to attract thousands


Staff writer

If there was a Guinness World Record for the largest Japanese tea ceremony, then this would surely be in the running. On the weekend of Oct. 25 and 26, the Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony will be held at several tea houses within the picturesque Hamarikyu Gardens, in Tokyo's Chuo Ward. The event is expected to attract about 8,000 people.

News photo
The Nakajima Teahouse at the Hamarikyu Gardens in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, is one of several locations for the Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony on Oct. 25 and 26, which will include dancing by geisha. TOKYO GRAND TEA CEREMONY IMAGE

Of particular interest to JT readers are events designed to instruct English-speakers about the cultural background and details of the famously complex tea ceremony. At noon and 2 p.m. on both days, 40-minute participatory demonstrations will be held. Visitors will be able to savor the slightly bitter taste of matcha powdered tea and sample sweets prepared by some of Tokyo's best-known wagashi (Japanese sweets) makers.

The number of participants for each demonstration is limited to the first 25 people who collect a ticket at the entrance to the gardens from 11:30 a.m. for the noon sessions and from 1:30 p.m. for the 2 p.m. session.

For the general public, there will be a total of 12 indoor tea-ceremony sessions, each lasting about 40 minutes, at the Nakajima-no-Ochaya (Nakajima Teahouse) and the Hobai-tei (Hobai House) on both Saturday and Sunday, and another 25 sessions at five outdoor venues on each day, too.

For those who prefer their matcha tea with a little more spice, from 1:30 p.m. each day there will be what the tea ceremony's Web site describes as a "flamboyant dance of geisha" from Asakusa.

Entrance to Hamarikyu Gardens, close to Hamamatsu Station on the JR Yamanote Line, costs ¥300. Fees for participating in the tea ceremonies are ¥300-¥500. The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. For more details, visit www.tokyodaichakai.jp


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