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Friday, Oct. 16, 2009

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Tea time: The tea ceremony is a centuries-old tradition in Japan.

Tea gets Grand treatment


By NATALIE KOCH
Special to The Japan Times

This year's Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony provides an opportunity for anyone to experience Japan's renowned tea culture.

The event hopes to both familiarize locals with traditional tea culture and to introduce tourists to the Japanese way of life in which tea plays a cherished role.

The event is organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture and features attractions that allow visitors to watch or participate: Nodate (outdoor tea ceremony), also held in English, and a special tea ceremony just for children, where the ceremony is explained with easy-to-understand demonstrations (Japanese only).

Each tea ceremony will provide original wagashi (Japanese-style sweets) from four well-known confectioners.

With special stage performances, the organizers hope to provide insight into Japanese culture and traditions. Original Japanese music instruments, such as the koto and shakuhachi will be played by the Tokyo University of the Arts and the Traditional Japanese Music Department and a geisha dance allows a glimpse of the beautiful kimono worn during a traditional dance performance.

Visitors may not be tea-ceremony experts, but a 30-minute lecture titled "The Basics of Tea Ceremony" by a U.S. tea master hopes to start them on that road. The lecture will explain how to drink tea properly and what each gesture during the ceremony means in traditional and modern Japanese culture.

Non-tea drinkers can enjoy themselves at the event as the Hama Rikyu Gardens provides the perfect setting for a pleasant daytime walk.

"The Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony" will take place at Hama Rikyu Gardens from Oct. 17-18 from 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. In case of bad weather (except for light rain), the event will be canceled. Admission costs ¥300, ¥150 for seniors (65 and over) and is free for elementary school children and middle school children attending school in Tokyo. There is an extra fee for tea ceremony participation. Tickets are available at the Main Ticket Counter (for kids and the Nodate Outdoor Tea Ceremony in English) or Nodate Ticket Counter (for the Nodate Outdoor Tea Ceremony in Japanese). For more information, please visit www.tokyodaichakai.jp


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