Each culture has something really special that other cultures would do well to imitate or make a part of their own. Japan offers us the peace and tranquility of the tea ceremony. A person with an open mind can willingly embrace this momentary oasis to de-clutter and calm their minds. Come, shall we celebrate tea?
Because this is an oasis of calm, the tea ceremony is very ritualized and must be respected and followed in every aspect. Four special ideas are the basis of the ceremony: wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (cleanliness) and jaku (tranquility).
The guest comes into the receiving room (porch, entryway) where hot water is served to cleanse the palate, then through a passageway (a garden passage with stepping stones) to the "squatting down place" in a serene area of the garden with running water, stones, grasses and a bucket of water to cleanse the hands, into the waiting room (a bench capable of seating all guests) where all is quiet, then into the tearoom itself.
Inside, there will be a vase with a simple flower arrangement and a simple artwork, both to be admired for their beauty, then a seating where the host begins the tea ceremony itself with simple, special items.
Shozo Sato, author and "interpreter" of cha no yu, or tea ceremony, provides all details and nuances in hosting one. Each chapter is dedicated to a different aspect of cha no yu: types of tea, utensils, setting up the tearoom, starting the ceremony, preparing the tea bowl and whisk, making the tea, and completing the cha no yu.
As this is a book written for children, Mr. Sata provides an alternative way when the proper way is not possible. Three things make this a really successful book: suggested adaptations, logical design, and plenty of pictures showing the correct way to do things.
Having worked with all ages of children, I can see gifted children of any age embracing this new ritual. I can see gifted teachers of elementary children coaxing their students into embracing cha no yu. As for myself, I plan to host a tea ceremony after spring cleaning.