Nitobe Garden at UBC 3pm – Flashback to the end of Summer.
As I drove into this part of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver BC, Canada, I felt like I was instantly transported to Japan. The garden was love at first site. Since my Tea Ceremony began at 3pm, I told myself that I had to explore this beautiful garden after the ceremony and enjoy the peaceful landscape and its serenity.
The tea house is a traditional hut where the materials were shipped directly from Kyoto. No nails were involved in the assembly of the ceiling or tatami floors. The workmanship was perfection. I observed how captivating the clean lines of the room were accentuated by the simplicity of the floral arrangement (Ikebana in Japanese) and the scroll that was hanging on the wall.
Our tea host (Teishu in Japanese) was dressed in a traditional kimono with prints that signify the start of the Fall season. Her gracefulness was an art performance in its own way. Every piece that was incorporated in the ceremony from the bamboo whisk to the Raku cup and the Matcha container (Natsume in Japanese) was curated in a well thought out manner. The pattern and colours on the teapot along with the rest of the accessories showcased a common theme well suited to this time of year.
During the ceremony, the origin of ‘The Way of Tea’ (Cha-do in Japanese) was discussed. It originated from Zen Buddhism and yet one will not find a strong religious presence here. Instead, we were asked if we were ‘present’ a number of times throughout the session. It reminded me of yoga where ones’ body can be there physically but the mind could still be wandering. Coincidentally, this is a powerful reminder for me as it is something I’ve been working on recently. To be present means to have both our mind and body arrived at a space where we can give our full attention, to whatever we have devoted ourselves to.
I am starting with 10-15 mins a day just to gather my thoughts and then I practise completely turning off my mind. Then in a meditative state, I focus on my breathing and take deep exhales that symbolizes the act of letting go. We don’t lose anything, but rather, let go of what no longer serves us anymore.
Another powerful message that I took away from the ceremony is to truly experience every moment whether it be observing the type of teacup I was served with, how the day felt, to remembering the air surrounding the room, and the way our host presented the experience because next time, it will be all different.
Have a beautiful day!
Sara Au Yeong