Jan 29, 2008

Beginner’s heart

Hatsugama is a formal tea gathering put on by the teachers for the students. This year’s Hatsugama celebrations included students who have never been to a formal tea gathering before. To be able to participate at a major event with beginners was a refreshing reminder to me of my very first tea gathering. I remember the nervousness of not knowing what to expect and being afraid that I might offend someone, yet I felt the incredible privilege of being invited to something very special.

At my first tea gathering, I don’t remember seeing so many people in kimono before and how graceful they all seemed to move in their finery. From the first scent of the incense to the beautiful arrangement of the charcoal, to the exquisitely prepared meal to the tongue-melting sweet and refreshing cold air to the bitter tea, it was an almost overwhelming experience of the senses.

By the time it was drawing to a close, I felt like four and a half hours had flown by, and I didn’t even mind the ache in my legs from sitting on the floor for so long. I was so sad for it to end and leave the warmth and the people I had grown so close to. To say goodbye to our host, and just leave to go back to the real world was such a shock. For the next several days, I was dreamily re-living the experience. How the host’s kimono swished when she walked, how the meal and the sake seemed to be so right together.

So this year, with the new students, I caught the spirit of everything as if Iwas a beginner again at a formal tea gathering. With the humble but eager heart of the beginner, I want to thank them, as I have become a little jaded at these events. Thank you for making it exciting and fun and full of magic and wonder for me. Aren’t we lucky to have our hearts stolen away by tea?


  1. I've just been reviewing your Hatsugama posts after our wonderful time together today. Thank you for this post, it well captures my experience!

    1. Indeed, these events serve to remind ourselves of the magic, and inspire us to study more, learn more about the way of tea.