The Study Abroad Newsletter

"Sadou" Japanese Tea Ceremony

Cao-Minh Tran

Japanese Studies major
Doshisha University, Japan

Student preparing teaDuring my stay in Japan, I traveled to many places in the country and once to Taiwan. One of my favorite events was when I visited the Kyoto International Conference Center. My dorm-mate and I went to see a Japanese tea ceremony, or Sadou, that was held for foreign students so that we could experience a part of traditional Japanese culture. I learned many things about the Japanese tea ceremony from the Master of ceremony. For example, in a Japanese tea ceremony people are also able to enjoy wagashi, which are Japanese traditional sweets that are served with matcha green tea. However, wagashi that are served during tea ceremonies changes according to the season. Each season, people can enjoy different taste of wagashi. Wagashi are always eaten before drinking matcha because the kind of green tea that is served is usually quite bitter, though seasonal wagashi differ by places.

Tools for tea preperationIt was my first time attending a tea ceremony and having a taste of authentic matcha green tea. For me, it was quite bitter, as I’ve heard, but it wasn’t undrinkable. I’m glad that I had a very sweet wagashi beforehand. The master of ceremony was dressed in kimono, a traditional Japanese wear. She looked very formal and elegant. After the ceremony, my legs were numb because I was sitting in a formal form of sitting called “seiza” for almost two hours, even though it wasn’t required for everyone to sit in this form, I thought I would give it a try to really experience this traditional culture.