Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 3 Part 2 O-Cha (Tea) Festival & Closing Traditional Japanese Dinner

After my lovely visit to the garden and temple, our group was off to the World O-Cha (Tea) Festival 2010.  This festival is only held once every three years.  It was a conglomerate of tea buyers and sellers from all over the world.  It was fun to be a part of such a global tea experience.  Here is the entrance to the festival with people rushing about anxious to see this year's teas and new products. 

I found this wall of art interesting.  Our host, Thomas Shu, graciously explained what it was.  All the symbols are done in calligraphy in Hanji (Chinese symbols) except for the one just to the left of my head which is in Japanese.  They all say TEA.  Although they all say the same thing, each one held its own beauty and looked so harmonious together.  According to Thomas, harmony is a fundamental practice in the Asian culture.  Harmony is also the spirit of tea.  
Along with tea vendors there were other vendors selling many different kinds of teaware, books, pottery, etc.  I found these cast iron kettles really beautiful. When I looked at the price and did my quick Yen to Dollar comparison, I understood why I found them beautiful!  They were out of my price range so instead of buying one, I took a picture so we all could enjoy their beauty!

Along with vendors, there were demonstrations being held.  Here is a man showing the old fashion way to make matcha.  He had volunteers come up and demonstrate and most of them left out of breath.  It is now done by automation, but the same practice of grinding the tea leaves on large stones is still done.   

Different tea ceremonies were held in front of the large tea calligraphy wall.  I was honored to be asked to be a part of a Chinese oolong ceremony with this young woman.  I was thrilled to be a part of it. 

I did feel sorry for the outside vendors because of the rain, not many were visiting them.  I ventured out for some lunch and shopped all the while trying to avoid the large puddles.  I found a lovely little pottery piece in the shape of tea leaf with blue and white flowers on it.  It is the perfect container for my vitamins I take throughout the day. 
At the close of the day, our group met with the directors of the festival.  I hope to return again to this festival in three years!

Hello Lisa:
JP and I have a very busy weekend in Chicago over the weekend.
One tea workshop at Northwestern U and one at Chicago's TAAGCC...both are full house events.  Tiresome but very excited.
Please see the photo and let me know whether this is what you are looking for?

Our group loaded back on the bus, one last time to our final meal together.  We drove to a small seaside town that was know for its fresh off the boat sushi and sashimi.  We all were asked to take off our shoes and to sit on cushions on the floor.  A few day prior, we were asked to choose from a variety of menus that all sounded delicious.  The "A A" place card next the tray of food was what I choose and I couldn't have been happier.  Can you guess what might be in the wooden jewelry box looking item?

In the upper left corner, I had the freshest sashimi, in the upper right side was some tempura, in the center bottom was a soup called chawan mushi that had seafood, short necked clams, and ginger, and the surprise in the wooden box was why I chose this meal.  It was broiled eel over a bed of rice.  I hadn't ever had eel  before and I wasn't disappointed.  It was delicious as was the whole meal. 

The dinner was a wonderful way to close the trip.  I feel so blessed to have gone to Japan and hope you have enjoying following my journey in tea!  In the next blog, I will share some of my reflections about the trip along with some cultural differences I found interesting. 

Happy Sipping, Lisa


  1. Dearest Lisa,

    So glad you got to taste eel! When I was still living in The Netherlands, my brothers caught eel in the River Meuse and I prepared it for them; delicious!!! Love eel.
    Your trip ended really nice and you got plenty of impressions to dwell on for a long tim ahead.

    Lots of love,


  2. Great blog, Lisa....indeed brought back so much fun and wonderful memories and all the good teas...


  3. I stumbled upon your blog through following a number of tea blogs. Am fairly new to trying to improve my knowledge of tea (and loving it!) and so your blog is a real treat. I loved reading your entries on your travels in Japan and look forward to reading more about your cultural observations.

    I currently live in London and am enjoying the British tea culture and learning a little more each day and happily blog about it :)

    Best wishes,
    This Good Life