It isn’t easy to find a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in Hakone, Japan. I know because I’ve tried. Having said that, this city is not bereft of hideaways to enjoy the centuries-old custom of preparing and serving green tea. A tea ceremony is meant to relax both mind and body while at the same time enrich the spirit. If that sounds like something you need (and you happen to be in Hakone), consider a visit to any one of the following locations.
1. Hakuun-Do Tea Garden
The Hakuun-DoTea Garden is probably the most popular place in Hakone to attend a tea ceremony. It has good reason to be. Its creator, Masuda Takahashi, is said to be one of Japan’s all-time great tea masters. Verdant gardens create a relaxing atmosphere that is popular with tourists.
Access: About 15 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto
Hours: Morning 10-12 PM; Afternoon 1-4 PM
Closed: Open year-round
Website (includes map): https://www.hakone-tozan.co.jp/gorapark/en/map/tea/
Price: Adults 550 JPY; Children under 12 free
2. Kinreisou Hotel
Kinreisou is quaint and rustic, with an outdoor hot-spring bath just beyond the reach of the rooms you will be enjoying your tea ceremony in. And speaking of tea ceremonies, its rooms are styled for just such a purpose. If you’re looking for the feel of authentic Japanese convention, look no further.
Access: A 7-minute walk from Gora Park
Hours: Always open
Price: 5,356 JPY per night
3. Amazake Chaya
While Amazake is actually a sweet drink made from rice, this tea house does feature tea ceremonies where you will sit on cut logs or cushions, enjoying the warm, friendly atmosphere in front of a beautiful fireplace. Hike the old Tokaido Trail to the front step before taking a trip back through 13 generations of passionate ownership at Amazake Chaya.
Access: 1.8 kilometers away from Hotel Ra Kuun
Hours: Sun-Sat 7 AM-5:30 PM
Closed: Open 7 days per week
Price: Varies with order
4. Momiji no Sato and Tea Ceremony Room
The area of Oku-yugawara, where this tea ceremony room is located, is known for its beautiful autumn foliage. In fact, Oku-yugawara means “the town colored by the four seasons”. You will have an enriching, relaxing tea ceremony while entranced by the beauty of the Momiji, or maple, leaves. Having said that, it is only open during the autumn season, which runs from November 17 to December 2.
Access: 10 minutes from bus stop Oku-yugawara
Hours: 10 AM-2 PM
Closed: Closed during all seasons except autumn
Website (including map): http://yugawara-resort.com/events/802/
Price: 500JPY per person
Tea ceremonies, and tea ceremony rooms, may seem to hide from you during your visit to Hakone, but with a little luck and the right kind of compass (which is perhaps a passion for the tradition along with great respect for times gone by), your search will be rewarded. Don’t give up the fight. And by all means, maintain balance in mind, spirit, and body.
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