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Happy New Year!

Today I attended the first tea ceremony of the year at my local Urasenke branch. New Year's is a big deal in Japanese culture, and accordingly the New Year's tea ceremony is the most elaborate of the year, with a multi-course meal, special celebratory touches like red felt padding over the tatami, and both thick and thin tea served. Here are my pictures; I was behind the camera for all of them, but that's not a big loss since I didn't have the chance to wear a kimono. (I can't yet put on a kimono by myself—it's much more complicated than it appears—and the people who might otherwise have assisted me were either out of the country or busy helping with the event itself. Ah well, next time.)

Probably my favorite thing about the New Year's tea ceremony is the chance to eat hanabira mochi, a special sweet consisting of a soft rice cake (mochi) wrapped around candied burdock root and stuffed with a mixture of seasonings including miso. The contrast of textures and flavors is delicious. Hanabira mochi was historically reserved for the imperial family before a nineteenth-century grand tea master petitioned to allow it at New Year's tea ceremonies. I like it so much that it wasn't until after I gobbled mine up that I realized I'd forgotten to snap a photo of it.

The weather just isn't right for January here; the temperature reached 66°F/19°C today. During the tea ceremony we had the window and tearoom doors open almost the entire time, lest the room overheat, and we could hear birds chirping outside. It's disconcerting to me, especially since we haven't had any decently cold weather yet this winter.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
brian_252
Jan. 19th, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
The temperature in Banff is currently -9d C :)
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