An Authentic Tea Ceremony Experience Hidden Just Beyond Matsumoto Castle

Article by Paige Norris

Witness a genuine ceremony performed in an ideal setting. Not only does Matsumoto boast a wooden castle, but it has also preserved a tea house just across the street from the castle. Even in Japan, authentic tea houses are not that common, so it’s well worth adding this stop to your itinerary!

What to Expect

While different plans are available, you can expect the following with each plan. The certified tea ceremony instructor Nagomi Sado Kaori belongs to the Urasenke School. She may adjust parts of the ceremony to accommodate schedules.

Steps of the Ceremony

Our host demonstrated all steps of preparing the tea. While the host typically does not talk during the ceremony, she helps guide participants through different points, like when to eat the tea sweets, how to pick up the tea bowl and drink, etc.

Point 1: Participants usually sit on their knees on the floor and small stools are provided to rest your weight on, but feel free to sit the way that is most comfortable.
Point 2: The teacher will bring in and lay out all the instruments piece by piece. Her bow at the doorway will signal that she is ready to begin.
Point 3: When you are given the okay, eat a piece or two of sweet confectionery to lessen the bitterness of the matcha (green tea). All lessons include at least one nerikiri (Japanese confectionery made by folding sweet bean paste into a soft outer layer made from a combination of white flour and white sweet been paste) handmade by the teacher.
Point 4: Receive the tea. The teacher emphasized that it’s important to keep the picture side of the bowl (if there is one) facing out when you drink.
Point 5: Try to finish the tea in three large sips followed by one final small sip, but take more if you need to.
Point 6: Place the bowl back on the floor and wait for the host to collect and clean it.

Try Whisking Your Own Tea

Each plan includes the chance to whisk your own tea. After seeing how it’s done, try scooping and whisking the tea powder yourself. Don’t be surprised if you notice a difference in taste from your version; the whisking isn’t as easy as it looks!

General Tips

- You’ll be taking off your shoes to enter the tearoom, so wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on (wear/bring socks if possible).
- The tea house is in a shady area and the windows don’t have screens. For an enjoyable experience, we recommend wearing some sort of insect repellent in the summer.
- There will be only fans and heaters as needed, but summer is particularly hot. Please dress for the season, and consider making reservations in the morning or evening during the cooler parts of the day in the hot summer months.
- The instructor is very open to questions, but please try to not talk during the ceremony.

Plans (content subject to change)

Special Plan: Authentic Tearoom Ceremony

The tea house in Matsumoto was built in 1958 and was modeled after a genuine samurai tea house. This is a unique opportunity to experience a full tea ceremony performed in English by a certified teacher in a traditional-style tea room!
After crossing stone steps, we entered a hut like structure sitting off to the side of the house. The rooms were designed to create a space where everyone was equal, thus the doorway for guests is no more than a square hole in the corner, causing everyone to lower themselves to the same level. Be sure to remove your shoes and watch your heads!
…or ask to use the regular size doorway on the other side!
Price: Adult ¥12,000 / Child ¥8,000
Age: 6 and up
Participants: 2-3 people
Duration: under 1.5 hr.
Includes: 2 servings of tea (or 1 depending on time and interest) & 2 pieces of confectionery (at least one handmade nerikiri)

Culture Plan: General Tearoom Ceremony and Confectionery Making

This plan combines two aspects of traditional Japanese culture: tea ceremony and confectionary making. This ceremony is performed in a regular tatami-mat room after you’ve tried making your own traditional tea sweet.

Traditional Japanese Confectionery Making

Even at a glance, it is easy to see why Japanese confectioneries are considered edible art. Learn how to make one of these traditional sweets that is regularly paired with matcha and a common site at a tea ceremony.

Price: Adult ¥7,000 / Child ¥5,000
Age: 6 and up
Participants: 2-5 people
Duration: approx. 2 hr.
Includes: 2 servings of tea  (or 1 depending on time and interest) & 2 pieces of confectionery (two handmade nerikiri)

Basic Plan: General Tearoom Ceremony

Price: Adult ¥5,000 / Child ¥3,500
Age: 6 and up
Participants: 2-5 people
Duration: 1-1.5 hr.
Includes: 2 servings of tea  (or 1 depending on time and interest) & 2 pieces of confectionery (at least one handmade nerikiri)

 

Booking

Booking Deadline: until 3 days before

* Submitting this form does not complete the booking. We will contact you by email once the booking is confirmed and complete.

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