Daily Archives: January 18, 2018

Chado: The Tea Ceremony

The Tea Ceremony, or Chado, (“Tsa-do”) is an essential part of Japanese culture and a ritual that takes years to master. The formal ceremony itself, the chaji, is a meditation on tea, the beauty and impermanence of time, and a call to a spiritual awakening of our human imperfections. Formal tea ceremonies usually last about four hours. (Ours did not!) The tea room is spare and unadorned, except for the beautiful natural elements of the tatami mats, or the presence of a singular, small display of chabana (flowers).

Some tools of the Chado ceremony: a tea container, a bamboo ladle (hishaku) for purifying one’s hands, a tea bowl for matcha, a chasen (bamboo whisk), and chashaku, the small, delicate, tea scoop above the bowl on the right.  


 Porter’s students had an introduction to the tea ceremony in a formal class taught at Kichijo, but when the Porter’s students left to meet host-sisters, the Kichijo students remained in class, taking instruction on the proper placement of utensils, appropriate presentation of the bowl, and the physical approach to the furo (heating structure), hibashi (fire chopsticks), and other tools and vessels included in this very specific ceremony. Kichijo students in this photo have been taking the tea class class for two years.

There are many Japanese images and poems surrounding the art and ritual of tea drinking. I’ll close with this from Kobayashi Issa, a late-18th/early 19th century Japanese poet from Kashiwabara in the mountains of the Shimano Province. His pen name, “Issa,” means “one cup of tea.” Enjoy!

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

What a beautiful way to welcome-in the evening!


Konnichiwa from The Yellow Group!

Porter’s students love a photo-op, and the Yellow Group (below) is hamming-it-up for the camera. This was taken moments before students ran off to 6th period English class following our afternoon reflection.

Veronica, Anya, Victoria, Sofia, and now Annika (having tossed her backpack out of the photo!) in the Kichijo Courtyard. 

After classes each day, students clean the buildings:

Keeping Kichijo clean!

Finally, a few parting reflections from members of the Yellow Team today:

From Veronica: One of the many things I’ve learned during my stay in Japan is how important it is to be flexible and open-minded while travelling. I am the type of person who finds something she likes at a restaurant and then will never order anything else on the menu… the experience of trying a traditional Japanese meal makes it worthwhile. Besides being open to trying new foods, you need to be open to a new form of communication. My host family speaks relatively good English, but sometimes they have to translate through their daughter or a translation app. The communication has gotten easier as time went by. Though it was challenging at first, I’ve built a close relationship with my host family.

From Sofia: We only have two days left in Japan, which is really sad…We’ve gotten really close with our host families. I’ve tried many kinds of food which has been a little hard for me, but I’ve been open-minded and I’ve liked a lot of them. I am really happy that our school gave us this opportunity of experiencing a new culture. It has been a great trip and I’m going to miss Japan a lot.

From Bella: The best and probably most valuable part of this experience has been staying with my homestay family. They are some incredible people and the connection we have made is very special. I invited them to New York, and because of them I think I will keep returning to Japan.

Snippets from the last few days

Good Thursday morning to you all: Ohayou Gozaimasu! We’ve got mild temps and sunny skies this morning in Tokyo. Porter’s students are in classes all day today until the tea ceremony/afternoon activities following the close of the academic day. We’ll send photos back later today; in the meantime, here are snippets from the last few days of our Kichijo adventure.

Hello from the “Blue Group” at 9:15 this morning!  Students are divided into two groups to accommodate space in the Kichijo classrooms. The Blue Group stands in the Kichijo Courtyard one hour ago. 

From Eliza N about her host family and travel so far:  Japan is amazing! I have never felt so welcomed by a group of people in my life! My host family has been so kind and are always excited to show me new things and new places! The other day we went to Mt. Fuji; it was one of my favorite experiences not he trip so far, and I’m very happy I got to experience it with them!

From Victoria L following our visit to Kobe College: The warm environment created by the faculty and and students was very much appreciated, even though the visit was short. Visiting an all women’s college founded by a Porter’s Ancient was inspiring to me and helped me see firsthand what a Porter’s education. motivation, and dedication can achieve.

Cooking Club yesterday: Students made almond cookies and looked quite satisfied  with the results:

Clare, Eliza N, Sofia, and Julie BG: Watch out Chef Eric! 

We’ll spend time with the “Yellow Group” this afternoon. Be sure to check back later this afternoon for more of “Tokyo Today!”