Expressions at the Tea Ceremony

The whole ceremony will mostly be in Japanese regardless the native tongue of the guests. Some prescribed expressions are used at different situations and both the Shokyaku (main guest) and Teishu (host) should know how to respond to them. All language used will be most humble and as polite as possible. During the tea ceremony the conversation is kept to a minimum and only essential questions are asked. Both Teishu and the guests will refrain from talking about topics unrelated to the tea ceremony to make the gathering unlike one in our daily lives. In most cases, especially formal ceremonies, only the Shokyaku is allowed to communicate with Teishu. If other guest have some questions or other comments, they will relate that through the Shokyaku.

The English (shown in brackets) for these phrases are not really translations, but rather what might be appropriate to say in English instead of them.

Host: "Okashi wo dozo" (These are the sweets / Please have some sweets) : At the end of the kaiseki meal and just before beginning the preparation of Usucha, Teishu will offer sweets to the guests. Teishu will sit in front of the Shokyaku (main guest) and place a bowl or dish with sweets between himself and the Shokyaku saying "Okashi o dozo" while bowing. the Shokyaku will bow back and put the bowl or dish aside to his or her right and wait until the appropriate time for eating them comes.

Host: "Ippuku sashi agemasu" (I would like to serve you a bowl of tea) : Sitting at the door Teishu will say that he or she is going to make a bowl of tea while he bows to the guests. This expression is mainly used before making Koicha (thick tea), since this type of tea involves the passing of one bowl instead of one separate bowl for every guest.

Guest: "Otemae chodai itashimasu" (Thank you for making tea) : When the Shokyaku has received his bowl of tea, he or she will thank Teishu for making this bowl for him or her. The bowl is in front of the knees within the Tatami the guest is sitting on. The fingertips of the guest touch the floor in between the knees and the bowl while thanking Teishu.

Guest: "Osakini shitsureishimasu"(Pardon me for going ahead of you) : After the Shokyaku has thanked Teishu, he or she places the tea bowl between him or herself and the second guest (kyaku), then the Shokyaku will excuse him or herself for drinking ahead of the second guest. Later on, when the next guest receives a bowl of tea, he or she will repeat the same apologies to the next guest in line.

Guest: "Mo ippuku ikaga desuka" (would you like to drink (one)more?) : This question applies to the second, third, fourth, etc. guest. When receiving a bowl of tea, it is polite to ask the previous guest if he or she wishes to drink one more. This is asked when the tea bowl is placed between the guest and the previous guest.

Guest: "Kochira wa juubun itadakimashita" (we have had enough) : This is an expression which only the Shokyaku can say to Teishu. After everyone has had a bowl of tea, and the bowl has returned to Teishu, Teishu will clean the bowl as usual. At the moment Teishu discards the waste water from the Chawan (tea bowl) into the Kensui (waste water receptacle), the Shokyaku will inform Teishu that everyone has had enough. This expression is usually followed by "Dozo oshimai kudasai".

Guest: "Dozo oshimai kudasai" (Would you please finish) : Teishu has just been informed that all guests had had enough tea ("Kochira wa juubun itadakimashita"). Now the Shokyaku will request to Teishu to finish serving tea.

Host: "Oshimai ni itashimasu" (I will finish) : Teishu has just heard that the guests had had enough to drink and wish that he or she stops serving tea. So he or she will reply with "Oshimai ni itashimasu" to confirm the Shokyaku's request.

Guest: "O natsume to chashaku no haiken wo" (May I have a look at the natsume and the chashaku?) : When Teishu has cleaned the utensils, the Shokyaku can express his wish to view the Natsume (tea container) and the Chashaku (tea scoop). Teishu will place these items so, that the Shokyaku can easily come to take them back to his seat.

Host: "Shitsurei itashimashita" (Please excuse me) : As the tea ceremony comes to an end, Teishu will sit outside the sliding door facing the guests and excuse him or herself. This is also the time when the guests can thank Teishu for his efforts by saying "Gojisou samadeshita" or "Arigatou gozaimashita".

Host: "Okashi wo dozo, meshiagari no ue de. Koshikake machiai de nakadachi wo dozo." (Please have the sweets, and then retire to the waiting arbour.) : After the guests have had their meal during a chakai (full tea ceremony), Teishu will place a bowl or dish with kashi (sweets) in front of the guests and instruct them how to proceed after eating them. Usually, after the sweets are eaten and the guests have moved outside, Teishu starts to clean the room and slightly change the setting for the serving of koicha (thick tea). In the garden there should be a Koshikake Machiai (waiting arbour) for the guests to retire while waiting (nakadachi) for Teishu to finish the preparations.

Guest: "So sasette itadakimasu. O narimono de" (We will do that. Please call us back with a noise maker.) : When Teishu has instructed the guests on how to proceed after having the sweets ("Okashi wo dozo, meshiagari no ue de. Koshikake machiai de nakadachi wo dozo"), the Shokyaku will reply that the instructions are understood. Further more, the Shokyaku will ask Teishu to call them back using bell or other noise making devise when the room and Teishu are ready.

Host: "O-fukukagen wa ikaga de gozaimasuka" (How is the tea?) : After the first sip of Koicha, Teishu asks this to the Shokyaku (main guest). For Koicha, the highest quality Macha (green tea powder) from new leaves which have been protected from direct sun light during the last days before harvest is used.

Guest: "Taihen kekko de gazaimasu." (It is excellent) : As explained in the previous entry, only exellent Macha is used to make Koicha. So, to the question from Teishu about the taste of the tea, the Shokyaku will reply that it tastes exellent.

Guest: "Taihen oishuku chodai itashimashita" (The tea was very delicious.) : After second guest's first sip, Shokyaku comments and praises Teishu before asking the follow-up question concerning the name and the make of the Macha.

Guest: "O-Chamei wa" (What is the name of the tea?) : After complimenting Teishu on the delicious tea, the Shokyaku will continue to ask about the tea. Sometimes buddhist or poetic names are given to organic materials used in the tea ceremony.

Guest: "O-tsume wa" (Where is the tea from?) : When Teishu has replied with the name of the tea, the Shokyaku can also ask where the tea was cultivated. Some areas and regions are very famous for producing high quality tea leaves.

Guest: "Zenseki no okashi mo taihen oishiku chodai itashimashita. Gomei wa" (The sweet we had previously was also excellent. What is it called?): (during drinking of koicha) After the Shokyaku has inquired about the name and the make of the Macha, it would be polite to also inquire about the sweet they received before Nakadachi. Most probably the Teishu will reply that they are handmade and give the poetic name that was given to it, or Teishu will say at which shop it was purchased.

Host: "Tesei de gozaimasu" (They were hand made) : When the Shokyaku asks about the sweets ("Okashi no gomei wa") they had received before, Teishu can say that they were hand made plus the poetic name given to it or at which shop they were made.

Guest: "Kyou no O-hana wa" (How about today's flowers, what kind are they?) : While the other guests are drinking the Koicha, the Shokyaku will continue asking questions about various things used in the Chashitsu (tea room).

Guest: "O-hanaire wa. Go-mei de mo." (How about the flower vase? And the name of the vase, what is it?) : Teishu can use a wide variety if vessels to place the flowers in. slightly depending on the level of formality, the Teishu can really express his uniqueness through the flower vase. Objects such as a Kensui, Kama, or even more unusual a Yakan.

Guest: "Sakihodo no narimono wa" (How about the bell which you used to call us back with?)

Guest: "Ochawan no haiken wo" (Might we take a closer look at the tea bowl?)

Host: "Ichio, oshimai ni itashimasu" (I will finish for now.) : Meaning that many other things remain to be enjoyed and that there will be more tea. Said when Teishu will clean up after Koicha, and start preparing for Usucha (thin tea). In this case the Shokyaku doesn't have to say anything because it is in the course of the Chakai that after Koicha, Usucha will be prepared.

Host: "Ousu wo sashiagemasu" (I will prepare thin tea for you) : The teishu is sitting in the door opening and bows to the guests while informing them the final round of Usucha will be performed.

japanese green tea


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