I recently presented chanoyu to a group of third graders, that is 8 and 9 year olds at their classroom in Portland. I had them pretend that they were Japanese students and they all stood up and said “Ohaiyo gozimasu, sensei” to their teacher, and they were very attentive and nearly silent during the 30 minute presentation. We talked about wa, kei, sei and jaku: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquilty. These kids got it: Being nice to each other and getting along; please and thank you, wash your hands before you eat, and quiet time.
They all waited with their sweet in front of them until I invited them to go ahead and eat your sweet. And I passed a teabowl around the class and they were so careful in handling it, looking at the “face” of the bowl. And what I loved was the questions, about Japan, Japanese students, my kimono, what the red cloth meant. I really enjoyed myself.
The students got to taste mugi cha, since there isn’t caffeine, but they got to see their teacher be a guest and drink the matcha, while they were silent “ghosts” just watching and observing.
The best part of all, I received a packet of thank you notes, see a sample of them below: