A Japanese Tea ceremony in Paris

Yeah, I know. I promised that I would write on a more regular base … I know. But I had a lot of things to do.

One of the reasons, I don’t get to blogging properly, is this place:

The MCJP or the House of Japanese Culture in Paris. Two evenings a week, I attend my Japanese language class in this building. Together with 10 other students, I am learning the basics of the language, I try to master the different Japanese alphabets and I’m preparing myself for that one day that I set foot on Japanese ground. Ok, I know that some Japanese do speak English, but I just love studying new languages and trying to speak the language with locals. In the beginning it was quite hard to get into the subject, but once you understand the structure of the language and how everything is set up, it becomes interesting … :).

The House of Japanese culture also houses a shop and organizes a lot of exhibitions, workshops and cultural events. Some time ago, my friend and I attended a typical Japanese tea ceremony on the roof of the building in a typical Japanese chashitsu (= a structure that is designed especially for tea ceremonies). A nice surprise and an authentic decor for this ceremony.

My boyfriend and I love tea. And travelling. Since we have not been to Japan ourselves, we decided to enjoy the Japanese culture and the tea during a tea ceremony organized by the Omotesenke school. In fact, the whole act of preparing tea and serving tea to guests is a real way of living in Japan. It is more than just boiling water and putting the tea bag in the kettle. It is a real art form that determines life, architecture and culture. It is a ritual where you’re expected to cleanse your mind and body and where you fully experience it with your 5 senses. Before entering the chashitsu, we were led into the Japanese garden or roji to rinse our hands and mouth. All of this with a great view on the Eiffel Tower.

The roji (Japanese garden with view on the Eiffel Tower)We took off our shoes, and slid on our knees into the ceremony room. The master of the ceremony entered the tea room and started preparing the tea according to a precise ritual. Every gesture is carefully measured and every move the master makes is a sign of respect to his guests. (I didn’t take photos during the ceremony because it wasn’t really appropriate). Tea ceremonies can last 4 hours and even a whole day. Our tea ceremony took only one hour, so we got a taste of this part of Japanese tradition. To be honest, 1 hour was just enough: sitting on your knees on a tatami is not really the most comfortable position :).

We knew that we were in a tea house in Paris, but when we tasted our tea and ate the piece of cake, we felt a little bit in Japan. And so, after this hour of zen and calmness, we returned to the Parisian rush and reality. After this particular moment, we are more convinced than ever: Japan, one day we’ll go there! Japan, here we coooooome!


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