Aug 1, 2007

Putting on Kimono

I always try to wear kimono when I am in the tea room. Some people in America think that kimono is an anachornism. Very few people in Japan wear kimono these days. But for those who have studied tea in a tatami mat room, wearing kimono makes ultimate sense. Everything I do is affected by the kimono: how I walk, how I sit, how I hold my arms, and my hand movements. The movements and body postures taught in Chado also make sense. One cannot slouch in kimono and one must take care not to spill because the silk fabric is expensive and difficult to clean.

But for me, putting on kimono is also a part of the ritual of preparing for tea. Just as important as cleaning and preparing the room and utensils, putting on kimon is like preparing my body. With each layer of clothing I tie on, I am removing myself from the everyday world and preparing to enter the sacred space of the tea room. I take on a different posture, both physical and mental. I grow to fill the sleeves and open myself to whatever experience will be created in the tea room. My pace slows down, my gestures become more fluid. It is a paradox to me that tied into kimono and obi, there is a freedom to become larger than myself.

I urge every tea student to try out the feeling of being in kimono during the tea ceremony.

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