College of Fine and Applied Arts

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Japanese Tea Ceremony

Event Type
Japan House
2000 S Lincoln Ave Urbana, IL 61802
Sep 20, 2023   5:15 - 6:15 pm  
$14.00 for students/Tomonokai; $18.00 for general public
Registration Required on EventBrite
Originating Calendar
Japan House Events

Chado, or the Way of Tea, is one of the most ancient and revered arts of Japan and is at the very heart of Japan House. It is a ceremonial way of preparing and serving matcha tea that benefits both the host and the guest through mutual respect, non-verbal communication, and a calmness, or sense of peace, away from everyday life.

There are many different variations of this revered 500-year-old art form. Traditionally, guests sit in the seiza posture on the tatami mats (kneeling with legs folded underneath and resting on the heels). There is also a variety of tea ceremony in which one sits on a chair while drinking the tea called Ryūrei style, or table-style tea ceremony.

Historically in Japan, people didn't use chairs. They sat on the floor for most everything, even to eat meals. The Ryūrei style of tea ceremony was created by Gengensai Seichū (1810-1877), the 11th head of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony, for an exposition held in 1872 in Kyoto. Many foreigners visited Japan at this time, so the government requested that an effort be made to modify the traditional form of tea ceremony as a way of making it more accessible.

The main feature of Ryūrei style is that both host and guests sit on a chair. The seiza posture is no longer used, but utensils are used in the same way as in a normal tea ceremony. Although this one aspect of the ceremony is altered, the Ryūrei style is otherwise the same as a tea ceremony performed using the seiza posture. Even Japanese people, who use the seiza posture much less than in the past, embrace the Ryūrei style of tea ceremony because it places less of a burden on the legs.

We will be alternating weekly between Ryūrei, (sitting on chairs), and sitting traditionally on tatami mats.

Ryūrei style - Seated on chairs

  • September 6
  • September 9
  • September 20
  • October 18
  • November 1
  • November 11
  • November 15

Seated on Tatami mats

  • September 13
  • October 11
  • October 25
  • November 8
  • December 6


What To Expect

After a brief tour that includes history of Japan House on the campus of the University of Illinois and information on the tea ceremony, watch as the host carefully and thoughtfully prepares each piece of equipment, chosen specifically for that day and season. Each guest will be served wagashi, a traditional seasonal Japanese sweet, and matcha tea in a unique handmade chawan, or tea bowl. Experience a moment of tranquility while learning about proper guest etiquette and the hundreds of years of tradition carried through tea ceremony.

Afterward, there will be time for guests to ask questions, as well as to shop from a wall of unique Japanese-inspired treasures that are part of our annual Bazaar sale. Cash and credit cards accepted.

Tea ceremonies will feature a variety of special handmade sweets, or wagashi, using recipes from the cookbook "The Art of Wagashi: Recipes for Japanese Sweets that Delight the Palate and the Eyes" written by Japan House Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji. The cookbook will be available for purchase.

Reservations are required, no walk-in’s or observers will be allowed due to limited space inside. Space is limited to 18.

All guests will be asked to remove shoes upon entering, and to wear clean, white socks (we have some to lend you if you forget). We ask that attendees dress modestly and legs be covered as is traditional in Japan. Please do not be late - once the tea ceremony begins, entry will not be permitted as it is disruptive to the experience.

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