Tea Ceremony in Nara

Nara is a beautiful city in Japan that is well known for its sacred temples and artwork that dates back centuries. While they have plenty of shrines and memorable sites to visit, there is something else that Nara has made its name for: its tea ceremony. This is a traditional Japanese ceremony that helps you escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist's routine, and enjoy the culture in a new way. This ancient art of serving tea is a practice that is passed down through generations, and when you are traveling to Nara, Japan, it can be passed onto you too.

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All About Tea Ceremony Experiences in Nara

Japanese tea ceremonies have been a part of Japanese culture since the early 9th century. In essence, a Japanese tea ceremony consists of a strict and refined method of preparing and serving tea. Today, it is a popular cultural experience that many tourists opt to partake in. If you are planning on paying a visit to Nara in the near future, here are some tea ceremony experiences that you won’t want to miss.

1. Jiko-in Temple Tea Hospitality

The Jiko-in Temple is perhaps one of the most underrated temples in Nara. Founded in 1663, it is known for its exceptional tea ceremony. You will find yourself entranced by the beautiful garden around the temple as you make your way to the minimalist, zen-style tearoom. The head priest will present you with beautiful Japanese sweets before bringing in delicious green tea. You should traditionally alternate between taking a bite of delight and sipping your green tea for optimal flavor. This will give you a full, traditional tea ceremony experience.

2. Tea Party in Nara

With this experience, guests will enjoy a full matcha-soba lunch before experiencing the tea ceremony. This tea ceremony is conducted by a tea master in the tearoom. Guests will be presented with sweets as they enjoy the ceremony and the usucha tea. This is the perfect ceremony for the whole family as comfortable seating will be provided for those who are uncomfortable sitting on tatami mats as is traditional in Japan.

3. Nara Visitor Center & Inn Experience

If you are in Nara for the first time, you are likely to stop by, and perhaps stay at, the Nara Visitor Center & Inn. This makes the tea ceremony experience extremely convenient for tourists. An experienced instructor will teach you about the history and etiquette of a tea ceremony as it is performed in a tearoom. Following the ceremony, guests will have the opportunity to make a cup of tea themselves.

4. NARAigoto Eena House

NARAigoto Eena House is a traditional Japanese house that offers foreign guests the opportunity to participate in a number of cultural experiences. Of course, one of those experiences is a traditional tea ceremony. Here, guests will learn about the history and etiquette of the ceremony before the full ritual is performed. Following the ceremony, guests will have the chance to make matcha themselves. With gorgeous tea farms throughout Nara, it is no wonder there are so many wonderful tea ceremony experiences for guests to attend. Wherever you choose to participate in these traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, rest assured that you will have an authentic cultural experience unlike any other. Near Nara, there are a number of airKitchen tea ceremony experiences in Kyoto where you'll enjoy an intimate atmosphere as they take place in local's homes. 

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FAQ About Tea Ceremony Classes in Nara

  • Which tea ceremony classes are offered in English in Nara?

    All tea ceremony classes in Nara on airKitchen are offered in English.

  • Which tea ceremony class is popular in Nara?

    Tea ceremony experience is popular with other travelers visiting Nara.

  • What is the best cheap tea ceremony class in Nara?

    Popular cheap tea ceremony classes in Nara include Tea ceremony experience .

  • How much does it cost to join a tea ceremony class in Nara?

    On average tea ceremony classes in Nara cost ¥5250 per person (based on airKitchen prices).

Let's Learn About Tea Ceremony Before Joining a Tea Ceremony Experience in Nara!

Tea Ceremony Basics

  • What is the purpose of the tea ceremony?

    The tea ceremony is about much more than just enjoying tea. It is a spiritual practice, intended to offer a sense of peace and harmony beyond our busy daily lives. It is guided by the uniquely Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”, which celebrates the simplicity and perfection of imperfection.

  • What is the history of the tea ceremony?

    Tea was first introduced in Japan from China in the 9th century. Though tea was initially prepared using tea leaves, powdered green tea (matcha) was introduced at the end of the 12th century. While at first the tea ceremony was a religious practice performed by Buddhist monks, it became a symbol of upper Japanese society. Over time, the tea ceremony spread from the court and samurai classes to the common people.

  • How is the tea ceremony related to Zen Buddhism?

    The Japanese tea ceremony is heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism. Japanese Buddhist monks were the first to introduce tea from China, and later the method of brewing tea from powdered matcha. Zen Buddhist monks saw an opportunity to practice mindfulness during the preparation and consumption of tea, shaping the tea ceremony into a spiritual practice. Wabi-cha is a Japanese tea ceremony style specifically related to Zen Buddhist principles, focused on simplicity and mindfulness.

  • What happens during the tea ceremony?

    During the tea ceremony, powdered green tea (matcha) is prepared by the host for guests following specific techniques and etiquette. Traditional Japanese confections, wagashi, are usually served alongside the bitter tea. Longer tea ceremonies include a kaiseki meal and the brewing of two types of green tea.

  • How long is the tea ceremony?

    The length of the tea ceremony can vary, depending on the type and degree of formality. A chaji, the most formal tea ceremony, can last up to four hours – it often includes a full-course kaiseki meal. On the other hand, a chaikai is generally less rigorous and can take as little as 45 minutes to an hour.

  • What is the etiquette of the tea ceremony?

    The tea ceremony is meant to bring about feelings of peace and serenity, thus it’s important to be respectful of your host, other guests, and the tearoom throughout the ritual. Wear conservative clothes, remove your shoes before entering the tearoom, let your host seat you, and eat and drink everything served to you. Your host will guide you through the ritual, so don’t worry too much! Just be genuine and sincere.

  • What clothes are worn during the tea ceremony?

    Traditionally, simple kimonos are worn during the tea ceremony. Flashy designs are avoided in consistency with the concept of “wabi-sabi” described above. Men wear hakama, another form of traditional Japanese attire. If you are wearing Western clothing to a tea ceremony, it’s best to keep it conservative and not too casual.

  • How is the Japanese tea ceremony related to weddings?

    Sometimes, tea ceremonies are performed as part of a traditional Japanese wedding celebration. They are often small, seated ceremonies shared among family members. Oaths are exchanged and tea is enjoyed in a peaceful atmosphere.

  • How is the tea ceremony related to geisha?

    Traditionally, geisha performed the tea ceremony as part of the five-year apprenticeship – a maiko is an apprentice geisha. They often lead public tea ceremonies on special occasions, especially during cherry blossom season under sakura trees.

  • How is the tea ceremony related to samurai?

    Historically, the tea ceremony was reserved for the Japanese elite – the court and samurai classes. The samurai were a powerful class at the top of the social hierarchy, and thus historically had the leisure and luxury for the tea ceremony. It wasn’t until later that the ritual trickled down and became a part of common Japanese society.

Japanese Tea Ceremony Schools (Sansenke)

  • Urasenke tea ceremony school

    The Urasenke school is the largest of the three tea ceremony schools founded by the descendants of Sen no Rikyu, a 16th-century tea master. This school was built by Sen Sotan, Rikyu’s grandson, and prioritizes guest enjoyment of the tea ceremony. Therefore, the Urasenke school is more open to allowing guests to sit on stools for their comfort verus on the floor, as is traditional.

  • Omotesenke tea ceremony school

    The Omotesenke school focuses on simplicity, adopting simple tea utensils and procedures. The tea is whisked less than the Urasenke school, making it less frothy. In addition, a whisk made from smoked bamboo (susudake) is used as opposed to an untreated bamboo whisk used by the Urasenke school.

  • Mushanokojisenke tea ceremony school

    The smallest of the three schools is the Mushanokojisenke school, or Mushakojisenke school, founded by Sen no Rikyu’s great-grandson Ichio Soushu. Like the Omotesenke school, the tea is not as foamy. There are other subtle differences between the three schools when it comes to the movements, seating style, and attire of the tea ceremony.

Types of Tea Ceremonies

  • Chaji Tea Ceremony

    The chaji is the most formal version of the Japanese tea ceremony, lasting up to four hours. It typically includes an extravagant kaiseki meal and the enjoyment of traditional Japanese confections before both thick and thin green tea is served.

  • Chaikai Tea Ceremony

    Though still guided by strict etiquette and guidelines, the chaikai is more informal tea ceremony gathering. Wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) are still typically enjoyed along with thin matcha tea.

Types of Tea Prepared in a Tea Ceremony

  • Koicha (Thick Green Tea)

    Koicha is a thick green tea that uses three times the amount of matcha as usucha. After being whisked, it is served to guests in a single bowl.

  • Usucha (Thin Green Tea)

    Usucha tea is a thinner and frotheir green tea, prepared using a higher water to matcha ratio. Traditionally, it is served in separate bowls to participants in the tea ceremony following the koicha.

Tea Ceremony Tools

  • Chawan (Tea Bowl)

    The chawan is the tea bowl that is used to prepare and drink the tea.

  • Chasen (Tea Whisk)

    One of the most memorable and important tools used in the tea ceremony is the chasen, or tea whisk, made of bamboo.

  • Chashaku (Tea Ladle)

    This is a ladle, traditionally made of bamboo, that is used to scoop the matcha into the tea bowl.

  • Chakin (Tea Cloth)

    The chakin is a cloth used to wipe and keep the tea bowl clean during the ceremony.

  • Natsume (Tea Container)

    The natsume is the container that contains the green tea powder.

Why Taking a Tea Ceremony Class in Nara is a Must-Do

A Tea Ceremony in Nara will Bring You Closer to Japanese Culture

There are many ways that you, as a visitor, can learn about Japanese culture during a trip to Nara. You can visit sites, attend festivals, participate in cooking classes, and even get to know the locals on a personal level. However, there is no greater way to experience Japanese culture than taking part in an ancient tradition that has been part of their way of life for centuries. You are not only given the opportunity to experience the culture of Nara, and Japan at large, through a tea ceremony, but you will also be able to enjoy some of the best green tea you will ever encounter.

Enjoy a Cup of Match in a Unique Manner in Nara

Matcha, or green tea, is the most common tea that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony. The ritual is also known as the 'way of tea,' and it provides a unique way to enjoy a cup of green tea. This ceremony is about more than just making tea, and teaches you about Japanese cultural values and etiquette. When you are able to enjoy the tea and traditional sweets that accompany it, you will see what we are talking about.

Learn What the Japanese Tea Ceremony Can Teach You About Life

Of all the experiences that you can find yourself enjoying, there is one experience you get from a tea ceremony that you can scarcely get anywhere else, exposure to another way of life. You can experience a ritual grounded in traditional Japanese perspective and culture. You will experience not only another world, but the people who live that life on a daily basis. You learn about the flavors, history, and traditions of Japan when you attend a tea ceremony in Nara.