This past weekend, I finally exhaled. Well, that was the feeling anyway, as my tea ceremony teacher along with another group of teachers and students hosted a tea ceremony event at a lovely venue in Nihonbashi. When COVID struck Japan over two years ago, tea ceremony became an early victim. By nature, tea ceremony is a social gathering which involves eating and drinking and often takes place in an intimate venue. It is also focused on the concept of omotenashi, hospitality, and inadvertently causing a participant to contract COVID would be the ultimate in anti-omotenashi. So for a long time tea ceremony practitioners and aficionados suffered, sometimes with online tea ceremony events, other times practicing alone, or like me, doing nothing at all.
There was a certain joy in this event as if welcoming an old friend into your home that had been away for years. Quite literally I reunited with tea ceremony acquaintances whom I had not seen for several years, even before COVID. I didn’t help serve tea this time as my skills are quite rusty after being tea dormant for the entirety of the COVID pandemic. But I did take pleasure in capturing images of the event, the gracefulness of the hosts, the pleasure of the guests.
Granted the return of tea ceremony to social life won’t register as a blip in the lives of the average resident of Japan. But yet, it has come back, as one of the petite flowers that signal the end of winter is finally coming. And I for one am grateful.