Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tea Ceremony Demonstration

Yesterday, I was invited by the "Bloomington Conversation Club", a kind of social club composed of middle-aged and senior women (mostly the wives of IU faculty and company executives) living in Bloomington, to demonstrate Japanese tea ceremony as one of their monthly lectures to learn about other cultures.

According to one of the members I talked with over the coffee and cake preceding the lecture and demonstration, the Bloomington Conversation Club has a history of more than 100 years: back then, women were not allowed to go out nor even visit friends freely by themselves, and so the club started as an excuse for women to gather and socialize with each other, since they were allowed to go out if for educational reasons - such as lectures with an invited speaker. Each monthly meeting always starts with coffee/tea and cake, always accompanied by some chocolates to nibble on, and then proceeds to the lecture - this tradition has been passed on without exception for all of these years. Their meeting places are rotated among members' private houses, it seems, and the house where today's meeting was held was a very large and handsome house with a grand piano in its lounge.

After the Chair of the club introduced me to about 25 women who had gathered that day, I started with a brief lecture on the history of the Japanese tea ceremony, its relationship with Zen philosophy, and its influence upon the Japanese way of life, and then did the demonstration. Both lecture and demonstration were quite successful, with lots of members enthusiastically taking notes and asking me questions during the lecture and assuring me that they really enjoyed the whole thing as well as the tea I served them.

It was also very nice to get to meet Patricia and Deb thanks to this occasion - Patricia is a staff member at IU East Asian Studies Center, and as the mediator for the Club and me for this particular event, she gave me a ride from my house to the place where today's event took place. It turned out that she has some personal connections both with Japan and NZ - she worked as an English teacher for 3 years in Japan and she visited NZ three times, including her honeymoon a few years(?) ago, as she loves the country. Deb is a ceramics art teacher in Brown County Highshool near Bloomington, and she has been interested in inviting me for a tea ceremony demonstration for her class sometime this year. Both Patricia and Deb are very nice and interesting to talk to, so I'm looking forward to having more opportunities to get to know them more in the future.

All the photographs uploaded on today's entry are taken by Deb - she has a talent in photography, as you can see - thanks to her beautiful pictures, I look like a real graceful tea master in these pictures, don't I??? ;-)

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