Many people think that tea ceremony is just making and drinking tea according to defined manners. But Japanese tea ceremony is actually a comprehensive art form that deals with a wide range of fields such as art, flower arrangement, architecture and gardening, Kaiseki(traditional Japanese cuisine) and confectionery. And "Chaji" refers to a formal tea ceremony entertaining guests with Kaiseki, Koicha (thick tea) and Usucha (weak tea).
You can meet the Japanese spirit of hospitality in a tea house near Himeji. An associate professor of Chaji will teach you all about the tea ceremony such as table manners, how to appreciate a tea room and how to walk in the room. The tea house is equipped with various refined artifice to enjoy the tea ceremony as a comprehensive art form. In addition, this tea room was designed to accommodate people who are not used to sitting on a Tatami mat!
One of the highlights is eating Kaiseki served in a formal tea gathering. You can see a unique way of cooking rice in a teakettle for boiling water over the hearth in the tea room. Try to make a charcoal fire using a bamboo blowpipe to cook rice. When it is ready, enjoy beautiful Kaiseki using seasonal ingredients with the cooked rice.
The main event is tasting matcha in the room with the lighting Japanese candles. A seasonal Japanese confectionery is followed by Koicha (thick tea) served in a formal tea ceremony. Koicha is made by kneading tea powder with a small amount of hot water. You may be surprised at how thick it is but try to appreciate its aroma and rich texture. Lastly, you will make Usucha (weak tea) by yourself. Enjoy the creamy flavor of the tea with the form on the surface.
As an option, you can make Japanese sweets, and/or you can attend the tea gathering wearing kimono. You would rarely come across a program rich in content like this. So regardless of your experience, Take this opportunity and try a special Chaji in Himeji!