Many people may know about Suma beach, where many types of people congregate in summer, but did you know that there's a whole town on the other side of the station?
As part of the #Kobe_PRA team, we received tickets to check out a tea ceremony happening today and tomorrow in Suma Temple and the building housing Suma Onsen. It was a beautiful day to be out in the sun, walking through the grounds of the temple, taking a pause to sip tea while watching live shamisen and flute performances.
We passed ladies dressed in kimonos who smiled warmly at us, and had the fortune to be situated next to some very kind ladies during the tea ceremony, who helped us out and told us what we should do. We weren't aware of this, but it seems like you're supposed to bring your own paper and eating utensil for the traditional Japanese sweet (wagashi; they're usually seasonal) served at the beginning of the ceremony. These ladies gave us some extra paper they had, which saved us the embarrassment of holding the sweet in the palm of our hands.
The sweet is served in the beginning, and it sets your palate up for the bitterness of the matcha tea that comes after in perfect contrast. There was a lady in the tea ceremony tatami room who explained everything, and made light conversation, creating a rather cosy atmosphere amidst the rigidity of the ceremony.
I've had the opportunity to experience tea ceremony several times before, and I'd done aikido a few years ago, so I thought I was ready - but nothing really prepared me for the pain of seiza, aka sitting with your legs tucked under you. Be careful of pins & needles, and don't try to stand up too quickly after!
The second tea ceremony we went to had us seated in chairs, but there was a similar conversational atmosphere.
If you're looking for somewhere to experience your first tea ceremony, this is somewhere I'd recommend - you definitely need some Japanese ability, but everyone was really kind and friendly!
Details (Japanese-only): http://www.feel-kobe.jp/event/detail.php?code=0000002257