Let’s Speak in English!
3－3 Miyuki Koga
In long Japanese history, one of the traditional culture is Tea Ceremony. I have taken Tea Ceremony lessons since I was in the first grade at an elementary school. The Tea Ceremony is held in a simple, though beautiful teahouse to achieve spiritual calm and fulfillment. And Tea Ceremony is taken as one of the symbols of Japanese spirit. But at that time, I was too young to understand this Japanese spirit. Tea ceremony meant for me just to sit up straight and endure the pain in my legs, and when this hard time is over, I could finally have sweet Japanese cakes and hot bitter green tea. I could not see much meaning, and reward in the ceremony. However, a turning point came to me.
When I was in the six grade at my elementary school, my grandmother, who is a Tea Ceremony instructor, invited me to a Doll’s Festival in Yokota-base in order to introduce Tea Ceremony to the people from abroad living there. On that occasion, many children from abroad gathered there, so my grandmother decided to take me, I had a chance to show my Tea Ceremony manners to those children.
On that day, there were many children in the teahouse. I had never seen so many foreigners before, so I was very nervous and my face was clouded with anxiety while I was waiting for my turn. When I went into the teahouse, many foreigners were looking at me, so my hands were shaking and my nervous anxious feeling was reaching the peak. I couldn’t lift my head and look at their faces. I had to try to do my best although I was not sure if they could understand this traditional Japanese culture. I remembered that my instructor always told me in the lesson. “The most important thing is to look at your guests’ eyes. When you give deep bow to your guests, you should look at their eyes. This is the important tea ceremony manner.” In the middle of my Tea Ceremony, my nervous feeling and tension were gradually going away. Towards the end of my Tea Ceremony manner, I plucked up my courage to look at their eyes. Then, I saw them sitting rigid there, and their faces were lined with pain. Because “Seiza”, was unfamiliar to them and they were not used to it. But they had endured the pain in their legs, and looked my tea-serving manners seriously. I was really glad about that, and a great joy filled my heart.
After the Tea Ceremony, I played some games with the children. We couldn’t speak each other’s languages, so we used gestures for our communication. But I was really happy that I could communicate with them even without words. When I left Yokota-base, they waved their hands to me and said all together “See you!” I also waved my hands to them and said “Good bye!” This was the only word I could say in English that day.
I am still taking Tea Ceremony lessons. Now, I can understand how important this traditional Japanese culture is, and I’m very proud of it. In the future, I want to present this wonderful Japanese culture to many foreigners and help them understand it by explaining it in English.