正午の茶事  Afternoon Tea Gathering


On the last Saturday and Sunday of May, I invited twelve students (six each day) from my tea ceremony class to our first chaji, a formal tea gathering.


After the year-long pandemic, I wanted to get together  to celebrate the completion of everybody’s covid vaccination. Up though May, we have been practicing tea ceremony but limiting participation to only two people at a time in the tearoom. For this special event, I only invited students who have been practicing throughout the year.


After hosting the formal chaji in Kyoto celebrating my teacher’s seventy-seventh birthday in February 2020, I wanted to share this unique experience with my students in St. Louis.


For this occasion, my husband prepared temporary koshikake machiai, waiting chairs, and made tsukubai with a bowl and stand to cleanse hands and mouth, hoping to create an atmosphere of a formal setting for the gathering.

初入りの掛け軸は、新緑の美しい季節に合わせて、『設色翠翁窺魚』 桂仙 画 

In the alcove, I hung the scroll matching for the season of fresh green outside.


To prepare kaiseki dinner, I gathered the plates and bowls from students, and two of my students and I made every dish from scratch with the limited Japanese ingredients we can find in St. Louis. In the end, we created each course with a beautiful and delicious dish, and everybody enjoyed our homemade kaiseki dinner, our labor of love.


During the dinner, we did chidori no sakakzuki, the exchange of sake between the host and guests. Considering the pandemic risks, the guests used their sake cup instead of sharing one.


The last course was our handmade nerikiri, opening peony flower, which we named hyakka no oh meaning the “king of all flowers.” After the meal, skipping the sumidemae (charcoal procedure), the guests left the tea room for a short break. 


Afterward, with the sound of dora (gong) we came back to the tearoom. The taiko drummer student in class got the idea to make a gong with a frying pan and a fabric-wrapped wooden pestle.
In the alcove I placed the clematis from my garden in the celadon vase. 


With nagaita futatsuoki (two utensils placed on a long board), I performed tsuzuki usucha (thin tea right after thick tea). In this case, the reason for the procedure was a tight schedule of the host.


I’m so grateful we successfully completed our first formal gathering. Through this experience, I hope we all not only learned the spirit of wakeiseijaku–harmony, respect, purity and tranquility–but also consideration among the host and the guests.


I appreciate all the support from the people who helped me in preparing and serving dishes, taking photographs, and cleaning up afterward. This event took a  lot of preparation, and I want to express my deep gratitude to my husband and students who helped me before, during, and after the event.