Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies are a precious experience that I knew I wanted to have long before I ever traveled to Japan. I searched online for several types of options before settling on one of the tearooms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Both tearooms in the beautiful park, Rakuutei and Shoutentei, are supposedly particularly easy to approach as a foreigner. You just buy a ticket from the machine outside, step in, take a seat and wait calmly to be served some lovely tea and sweets.
Still, as soon as I’ve entered the tearoom I feel the sweat beading at the edges of my forehead. I’m nervous and afraid. Maybe I’ll do something wrong and the lady will be angry at me, I think, quite irrationally.
Or maybe not so irrationally. Since it is a ceremony, there are lots of rules and customs that visitors should take into account. The ceremonies are seemingly simple, but in truth meticulously thought out and elaborate, with every step having a profound deeper meaning and an aesthetic that goes back hundreds of years. Luckily my mere existence offends nobody, and I make it out alive, enriched by a wonderful new experience.