Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Boukakuan Japanese Tea House & Garden

Angelica and Nancy along with several other guests, were introduced to the Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Boukakuan Japanese Tea House and Garden. Our host, Drew Hanson, pictured above at the entrance to the garden, pointed out unique features, and paused at the koi pond where we crossed a small bridge. Each turn of the garden path offered a beautiful view of spring plants in bloom, and peaceful tranquility as we walked toward the Tea House.
Nestled among the trees and shrubbery is a four and a half tatami mat tea room with a small preparation room off to the side. It is air conditioned and heated, so it may be enjoyed throughout all the seasons. Dr. Hanson, our host, has been a student of the Urasenke tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony since 1995, and is also licensed as an instructor. He expertly guided us through the steps of the tea ceremony.

Located outside the tea house, this spot provides an opportunity to rinse your hands and mouth before you enter the tea house.

The scroll with the Japanese calligraphy and floral arrangement are both an important part of the tea house and will be found in any Japanese tea house. Here, the scroll expresses the thought that the heart is like a flower with the ability to open. The flowers are picked fresh from the gardens surrounding the tea house.
The service for the tea ceremony is meticulously arranged and everything is in its place.  Once we enter the tea room, the worries and concerns of the world are left behind, and we begin to enter into the experience of the tea ceremony. We are seated on the floor, and the fragrance of incense begins to permeate the room.

There is an informative page on the Boukakuan Tea House website that offers additional explanation about the tea ceremony. Be sure to read more about this cultural experience.

Before we begin, a homemade sweet is presented to each guest. Made from adzuki bean, it was sweet and delightful. The little wooden utensil is used to cut the sweet and eat. Host and first guest (Angelica) bow to each other after the presentation of the sweet.

Preparation begins, each movement done with purpose
Whisking the matcha

 Angelica, supporting the bowl in the palm of her left hand while holding it with her right hand, offers the bowl of matcha to the universe, and sips the ceremonial green tea in three sips and a final slurp to finish it all, admires the beauty of the bowl, wipes the rim with her forefinger, and returns the bowl to the host. We tasted Ujicha from the Horaido tea plantation, a family owned plantation outside of Kyoto, Japan. It was thin tea (usu-cha) but very smooth and creamy without any bitter taste.
The spirit of the tea ceremony is many fold. Peace and tranquility, harmony, respect, and purity are fundamental principles. There is an appreciation and understanding that this moment is special and unique, not to be repeated. This New Jersey gem is located in close proximity to Philadelphia, and approximately an hour from NYC. The tea house is open by appointment only where you may schedule a private demonstration or even take lessons in the Urasenke tradition of Japanese Tea Ceremony. Find them on Facebook, too!


Linda Jennings said...

Lovely! I enjoyed seeing Angelica experience this special event.

Marilyn Miller said...

How very special. I hope Stephanie sees your post. I have enjoyed this ceremony with Stephanie at our Portland Japanese Gardens. It takes such patience and intent. How wonderful that you and Angelica could enjoy it.