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Friday, Dec. 16, 2011

Handsome men to host tea ceremony in the spirit of cultural exchange

Staff writer

That most traditional of Japanese activities is given a new spin this weekend in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Sado (tea ceremony), the ancient art of so much more than simply the brewing and presentation of matcha (green tea), is steeped in cultural history. Rooted in the practices of Zen Buddhism, custom may forbid adulteration of the tea itself, but there is a way to experience it with a twist — no lemons necessary.

So, for the fifth time this year, organizers will hold an Ikemen Chakai. Instead of focusing on the drink itself, you will more likely focus on the hosts of the tea-based hospitality — in particular, their looks.

The ikemen (handsome guys) are international students hailing from France, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Peru and Japan. Formally dressed, with hakama (a kind of skirt) over their kimono, the male-only group will serve guests — who are welcome to dress a little more informally — wanting to experience an updated version that retains the true essence of the occasion.

The Male Tea Ceremony by International Students — Ikemen Chakai takes place from 11 a.m. till 6.30 p.m. on Dec. 17 and 18 at the Collaboration Center Building 5, Technology Development and Exchange Center in Hibikino-kita, Wakamatsu-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture. For more information, call (093) 695-3715. The tea ceremony costs from ¥600 per person.

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