Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tea ceremony by the owner of Beniya Mukayu

Natural spring water, flowing gently from its underground source.....into the rock reservoir. Here, time almost stop for one to enjoy the natural beauty of this garden. All we could hear were the rustling leaves beneath our feet and the happy chirps from the bird. 

This is wat every resort for relaxation should be. After all Beniya Mukayu is one of the listed property under the Chateau & Relais group of luxury hotels, resorts, villas with restaurants. It has became so addictive that each travel destination, we must incorporate a property under Chateau & Relais group into our stay.

From Lyon to Marseilles....from Mount Fuji and now to this hot spring town called Yamashiro. Even JS insisted each trip to Japan must include a stay at a ryokan. :))))) he's addicted to the service and cuisines served, I was more into the hot spring bath...hehehehehe

We were picked up from the train station to this property, greeted with smiles and freshly pressed local apples juice and hot towel. before being shown around the property and finally our room. Okie JS has taken pics of our room so you will have that in the next posting :)))

After all the introduction we were lead to its garden for a private tea ceremony, by the owner of Beniya Mukayu Mr. Nakamichi. Of coz we were delighted!!! I'm game for any tea ceremony :)))

the little tea house down the slopes. JS said he thought it was a hut to store gardening tools

-_- it's definitely not!!! Such free standing tea house is called Chashitsu usually built in a wabi sabi style. if you've been following this blog, wabi sabi is an aesthetic beauty in imperfection. A good example would be a handmade clay/ceramic bowl or cups. It's not symmetry nor uniform and yet it's beautiful. 

The concept of wabi sabi has been applied in modern western arts as well. Something that we will need more time to learn and explore. *that reminded me I have yet to blog about my trail I did in Saint Remy de Provence hunting down sites where Vincent van Gogh painted his important pieces. GAH!!!*

We were then given warm shawls for the weather is really freezing during winter months. I was only disappointed that most of the snow has melted already!!!! Otherwise the setting here would be so stunning, with powederie snow sitting on the naked tree branches. The zen garden that usually accompanies a Chashitsu tea house is called Roji.

Our personal room attendant then gave us some insights on tea ceremony such as to slide the door open, how to bow, how to consume the sweets etc. Oh that's helpful coz we are tourists hahahahaa. Our room attendant is from south America, looked like a French boy and speaks perfect Japanese. Gosh the world has no borders anymore!!!

Once we were inside, the mood changed.....into such peaceful quietness we could only hear our own breathe....no one was inside and Monkey wanted to yelped "Heeeeehhhh rooohh???"

Before any further attempts to embarrass ourselves like some tourists, Mr Nakamichi glided out from his little corner with his right foot forward, then the left foot also glided in such beautiful movement, it's almost like watching him dance. He was wearing a traditional dress that was ironed to such perfect crispness. Mr. Nakamichi then laid his utensils and tea caddy down before positioned himself and sat down to face us.

JS and Monkey blinked >.<

U could see that we were so in awe of his grace and power, that JS forgot to snap pic of his zen entrance into this tiny space. I am sure it requires a lot of practice to glide out with strength and power, and yet with grace.

Mr. Nakamichi: "Good evening, and welcome to Beniya Mukayu. I am Nakamichi-san, the proprietor of Beniya Muakyu."

his voice was authoritative and yet not intimidating. Both Monkey and JS were still blinking. 

When given, one must receive with both hands. Like a good student, both of us listened with ears tuned to high intensity of words uttered out from Mr. Nakamichi. I felt like it was a session between sensei and his obedient students. The austere in his voice spelt seriousness but this is all for the tea ceremony. 

A day later when we met Mr. Nakamichi in his suit and tie, he was such a fun person with good hunour and knowledge. So I guess in this little tea house all the rules for the ceremony are set for one to abide. That includes all the black lines on its tatamis mat floors. It's borders and one can never cross nor step on the black line. Did I touch it? I can't remember now.

and Monkey received with grace....pulling the tray with such delicate zen-ness and speed I thought I am gonna break my own nails having to pull this beautiful tray of sweets over to me. It's so intimidating to have 2 more pairs of eyes watching me to pick up sweets off the tray in a formal ceremonial lady-liked manner. Hahahahahaa. which I'm not of coz. Very little knowledge on tea ceremony nor am I gentle like a lady.

choose ur pieces and lay them on the clean sheet of paper. Looking at it, just reminded me of green bananas hehehehe and I couldn't resist, broke the silence and giggled out in this quiet room. Oppssss. Teas are tannic so usually it's served accompanied with sweets to balance the palate. 

and now the ceremony begins.....

every step in the full tea ceremony is so precise and with purpose. It takes years to master the art of tea ceremony. Mr. Nakamichi's movements were so graceful and we could feel his strength as he whisked the tea with precision. 

He was so concentrated while we were also watching with such intensity except the occasional shutter noise that was bz klakking away....

so my dear readers, sometimes it's not so easy to capture every moments for you. One need to seek permission and even that it could sometimes hinder the mood of the moment, when it should be so quiet and zen and no noises fr camera should interrupt this beautiful ceremony. But Mr. Nakamichi is such a professional, he didn't mind it all but channeled all his full energy and concentration into making tea for us :)))

Thankfully we were not tea ceremony virgins. Hahahahaha
When you receive your bowl of tea, you need to turn and rotate it so you don't drink directly from its front. Then lift it like I did and enjoy!!! When I said enjoy, it's meant to be sipped and gulped!!!

AAaaaAAAaaaa it was so delicious~~~~~then the conversation started and Monkey asked about the water source :)))

because Mr. Nakamichi used the very same water that the sake producer in this region used. Ohhh that really did make such difference. It has such minerality sweetness to it....I wished I could have this everyday. The temperature of the tea was served just right and never too hot to burn the aroma and flavors and ur tongue of coz!!! All elements are meant to complement each other and never over-power it.

Notice the scroll on the wall? In the full tea ceremony, the room is usually a 4.5 tatami mats room, something like wat we were in. Specific items and corners were prepared in such a way, including who sits where and how, different entrance for guests and host. The flowers and scroll are the subjects to be spoken/discussed about when enjoying the tea. Since we can't discuss about the scroll nor the flowers deco, it's all about the beautiful tea that he has prepared for us. Mr. Nakamichi told us it takes about 10 years to master this beautiful art of controlling inner strength and grace to prepare the best tea ever!!!!

Mr. Nakamichi....can I have another bowl please? :))))

Soon our silence of respect broke into small laughters and exchange of notes of culinary experiences. Mr. Nakamichi himself is quite a foodie and he really do love his food. He assured us that we will not be disappointed with dinner of carefully sourced local ingredients from this region and creation from his team of chefs. 

Monkey: "I want Nodoguro!!"
JS: "I want to eat the famous crab."
Mr. Nakamichi: "Oh you know all the cuisines in my town already!!!"

He was so amazed with JS's camera and requested to play around with it. It seems that Mr. Nakamichi loves photography too :)))

Seen here, JS and Monkey both looked so pleased and contented. Really a joyous and precious afternoon to be enjoying delicately prepared tea by the owner of this ryokan :))) How surreal, you can't get this everyday nor every visits to Beniya Mukayu, pending his availability.

there's always boundary on the tatami mats, the lines also served as demarcation and borders. Monkey had to shuffle to the other side on her hands and knees to have this precious pic taken with Mr. Nakamichi :)))))

It was really a privileged to have experienced this beautiful tea ceremony. 

We moved out of the tea house feeling much more enlightened for the new knowledge we acquired for the session, what was meant to be a 30 minutes experience became an hour. We truly appreciated the time spent together with the owner. :)))

For more information on the property, visit the main website below:

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