I’ve served in an all-day tea event before at Ichibata Yakushi Temple by carrying the tea and sweets (o-hakobi), but the Matsue Castle Grand Tea Ceremony is one of the Top 3 (all three share this title, no one thing is chosen as Number 1) tea gatherings in Japan. Although I had done part of the preparing of the tea (o-temae) for my tea school’s private Hatsugama (New Years tea ceremony), this was my first time doing it in front of strangers–up to 50 of them at a time, though we served hundreds of people in one day.

The scroll and flowers decorating the Omotesenke tent (where I was serving). Notice how the hanging vase looks like a boat. The scroll also happens to mention boats, as it is about the scenery at West Lake in Hangzhou, China (which just so happens to be my favorite city in China and one of Matsue’s Friendship Cities).

I’ll recap my serving experience a bit first, and then share a little about when I just went around as a guest the day before and tried out some other schools of tea!