[Feature] Tea Gathering! Come have tea at Seifuso
The tea ceremony is a classic Japanese traditional art.
When it comes to tea ceremony, it is easy to feel pressure because of its unique atmosphere.
In addition, we have impression that it is difficult because there are a lot of specified manners to it.
But here in Yamagata there is a place where even beginners can easily experience the world of the tea ceremony through a tea gathering experience!
This time, the VISIT YAMAGATA editorial staff had a tea gathering experience at Seifuso in the center of Yamagata city.
Even beginners could enjoy it!
I will tell you about this experience (^ ^)
・ City Promotion Division, Planning and Coordination Department, Yamagata City
・ Urasenke school Honorary Master Munehide Shiga
Momiji Park is located in the center of Yamagata City.
It is a popular spot in autumn as the leaves are beautifully turning red.
The Seifuso building in the park was a temple of the Shingon sect called Houdouji before the Meiji Restoration.
There are four tea rooms inside, both in Japanese-style and with chairs. In addition, the Hokoan tea room was established in 1954.
Today, it is used as an annex of Yamagata City’s Citizen Hall. Various activities centered on traditional culture are being conducted here.
2. Let's try this
You can experience tea gathering at Seifuso without prior reservation on any day, except when the facility is closed. Such tea gathering held on a weekday is called “higama”.
It’s wonderful to enjoy tea in such a great location!
Let’s join this higama immediately!
● Tea voucher
The reception is on your right when you enter Seifuso.
Buy your tea gathering voucher here (500 yen).
Move to the tea room with your voucher. This is exciting!
On my way to the tea room I saw the garden.
When you look at the beautifully arranged garden, it seems that you are in a place far away from your everyday life, even though you still are in the center of Yamagata City.
Let’s head to the tea room.
● Tea room (chairs)
Higama is held in a ryureishiki style, which means holding the gathering in a room with chairs and tables.
Here you can sit in a chair and have a cup of tea. Even people who are not good at sitting down in traditional seiza style can enjoy tea here without worries.
3. Six points to look at
① Hanging scroll
You can see the hanging scrolls when sited down.
Let’s focus on this first.
The hanging scroll is said to represent the feelings of the host and will vary depending on the occasion.
This was the hanging scroll this time.
“Maybe is is time – beyond the navy blue of – the morning glories?”
A haiku from Hakyo Ishida, a haiku poet from Ehime prefecture. It says that he remembers the days that passed beyond the navy blue.
The characters on the hanging scroll are often unreadable, so it may be difficult to understand, but the tea master will explain it to you if you ask.
How about watching the hanging scroll and decipher the message from the host?
② Flowers and vases
The bamboo used for the vase is called soot bamboo. It it is a valuable bamboo that can be taken from the attic or ceiling of old thatched roof houses.
It is characterized by the fact that it has been smoked over a long period of 100 to more than 200 years due to the smoke coming out of the hearth in the old house. This has turned the bamboo to a unique brown or amber color.
The flowers are dignified by this shiny bamboo. I am left speechless and I feel the traditional atmosphere.
③ Kettle, stove, jug
The kettle, stove and jug to be used to prepare the tea.
The water used for the tea gathering comes from a jug and is boiled in a kettle over the stove.
The jug brought by the tea master is very rare and as a unique lid shape. The light blue is cool and beautiful.
There are jugs in various shapes, so please check them out.
The natsume is the tea caddy in which the green tea is stored. This time, it was a very rare item made of finely woven bamboo. This too has a cool appearance, but is really beautiful.
The natsume is the tea caddy in which the green tea is stored.
This time, it was a very rare item made of finely woven bamboo. This too has a cool appearance, but is really beautiful.
You will be offered sweets before the green tea.
I visited on a hot summer day.
These were the sweets I received. They look refreshing!
It looks like a gyuhi (soft mochi) around red bean paste. You can see the pale pink through the gyuhi!
It was a delicious sweet with a refined sweetness. matching perfectly the season.
In a regular tea gathering, the tea master will consult with a Japanese confectionery shop to find sweets of shape, taste, and softness appropriate for the invited participants.
Entertaining the guests is also at the heart of the tea ceremony.
⑥ Green tea
There are two ways to prepare the tea, thick and thin. This time we had thin tea.
It was a very humid midsummer day, but the tea was just at the right temperature and it was delicious.
It is a hot drink, but for some reason it refreshes your heart.
Even if the same person makes the tea, its taste will change depending on the weather and your mood.
This is one of these “ichi-go ichi-e” once-in-a-lifetime moments.
There are various styles of tea ceremony, each with different characteristics.
Today the tea master was of the Urasenke school. She brought the hanging scrolls and other tea utensils.
Many tea utensils are expensive and precious, and you can hardly see them usually. One of the the real pleasures of a tea gathering is that you can see them up close.
Such higama tea gathering is held every weekday except Monday (closed day).
This is a luxurious facility where you can feel free to enjoy “real” tea without prior reservation.
Some people are said to come two or three times a week!
I think I might come again…
4. Walk around Momiji Park
After the tea, make sure to go walk in the garden.
Momiji Park was landscaped by a gardener invited from Edo by the castle lord of Yamagata back in the days. It was designed using stones from the garden of the main hall of the Yamagata Castle and Yoshino maple trees.
They are so beautiful.
The picture was taken around July. The best time to see the colored leaves is in early November.) In the center of the garden, there is a heart-shaped pond. I enjoyed the quiet time while taking a leisurely walk around it.
Now, in the summer, the beautiful twigs of maple leaves are lush. I would like to visit again in autumn to see red leaves.
The picture was taken around July. The best time to see the colored leaves is in early November.)
In the center of the garden, there is a heart-shaped pond. I enjoyed the quiet time while taking a leisurely walk around it.
How was it?
The is charm in the beautiful garden, the historical building, and the tea you enjoy in silence.
Once you try it, you will want to come again and again.
If you would like to participate in the higama tea gathering, it may be safer to contact the tea house in advance to check if it isn’t closed.
Why don’t you give it a try? It will surely be a wonderful time and a new world may open up to you.
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