It was the end of February, the snow was still waist-high but the signs of spring are everywhere. It was still cold but the stronger sunlight compensates the lack of warmth and Vitamin D :) Around 9am. I was still in my pyjamas hiding beneath the thick blanket, not wanting to greet the rays or morning light. The phone rang. I reached for it and it was my tutor, Bandai-san, on the line, reminding me that the Tea Ceremony is about to start. I glanced at the blue wall clock, involuntarily I should say, because I know that it has been stuck at 11 o’clock for nearly 2 months.
I immediately washed my face, put on the thickest socks I could find, and grabbed my jacket.
I entered the room reserved for the ceremony. My clumsiness was a misfit amidst the formal atmosphere. I didn’t expect that the UMEX members would prepare so much for this. Everyone was in their formal winter kimono. Bandai-san looked radiant in her green ensemble. I greeted her and told in her in my broken Japanese that I love her kimono and my favorite color is green. She shyly thanked me and showed me the space where I can sit. She sat beside me and we were both facing a lady in a flattering pink kimono, stiff in her sitting position but with hands gentle as the water as she pours the first drop of hot tea in a ceramic cup. Bandai-san, who was also my English “student”, patiently explained to me in English the procedures of Japanese tea-making throughout the ceremony. At the end, we each all had a warm cup of green tea or “matcha” in Japanese (there is also a proper way of drinking it with clockwise and counter-clockwise turns before and after). The Japanese Way of Tea is an art in itself.
It was still covered with blinding whiteness of snow outside. But I was warmly filled inside not only with the artistically prepared green tea but more of Japanese hospitality and tradition.