Few months ago I attended a Bontemae class at Matcha House Europe, in the barrio of Gracia in Barcelona. Bontemae is a “simplified” version of chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, but it is still very complex, deep and difficult to perform. It is based on the same principles of the full ceremony only that it is performed in a tray on a table instead of on the tatami at the teahouse.
Our teacher was Nuria, a Japanese Spanish teacher that has been studying chanoyu for more than 20 years in Japan at the Urasenke school. We were five people around the table from which just three of us were students. Together we shared an amazing two-hour class, watching carefully, learning, practising and contemplating the grace of each movement she performed. We learnt how to clean the utensils, how to whisk the matcha, fold the “chakin” (the silk cloth) among other things, and we practised the whole routine at least couples of times. We ate our “okashi” and enjoyed every minute of the class.
One of the things I appreciate the most about the Japanese Tea Ceremony is the level of detail, the simplicity and the complexity of what seems obvious and simple; the acknowledgement of space, surroundings and the ceremony or ritual itself. The respect for everything and for everybody, the feeling of full awareness and what this all mean to you in a personal way.
I treasure every tea ceremony or class I have attended, each one has been unique and has taught me different things. I love the opportunity it provides to connect to the simplicity and the beauty of things, to share just by being there and the way it makes everything so special. It always leaves me a feeling of fulfilment and peace.
I want to finish this post with the phrase Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会), a concept that I love that is also connected to ‘the way of tea’ that has been translated as “one time, one meeting” or “one encounter; one opportunity”. Meaning, roughly, that every moment is unique and it cannot be repeated the same way…. That always remind how important it is to enjoy life in every way possible.
Thank you Matcha House and Nuria for this opportunity, I hope we can enjoy another class very soon!