Today I had the lucky opportunity of hosting a chakai for people that I had never met. However these two people had traveled many thousands of miles from North and East of here to be my guests. They were graduates of the Midorikai program in Kyoto and attended about 5 years before I had gone myself.
One of my guests had not done tea for about 20 years and the other one had kept in practice even though there were few tea people to share tea where he lived.
I started preparations earlier in the week cleaning my house top to bottom. I cleaned, swept and vacuumed. I dusted, wiped and washed. This morning in the quiet, I zokined the tatami and put the fresh kettle on. As it heated, I prepared my utensils: Unrolled the scroll and hung it carefully. I sifted the tea and rinsed and dried the teabowl, mizusashi, and kensui. I soaked the new chakin and opened a new chasen. I arranged the utensils just outside the tea room.
Then I went to make the sweets: White kinton with green interior. Gomei – yukima no kusa
I cleaned the toilet, put out the tsukubai, picked and arranged the flowers. Then I filled the natsume, arranged the sweets and went to put on my kimono. As I dressed, I thought how lucky I was to be able to host two experienced tea people who were hungry for the experience!
I went to check the kettle and it was beginning to sing. My student came to assist, and he once more zokined the tea room,. put on his kimono and went out to wait for the guests. He greeted them outside and assisted them inside to take off their shoes and hang up their outer garments.
Surprise, one guest wore his kimono! Up in the tea room, the incense was lit and wafted down to greet the guests. They entered the tea room and we made them comfortable. What a joy to make tea for these guests who appreciated everything and noticed the smallest details. The conversation was easy and natural, the tea was made and drank. They even had two bowls of tea each.
After everyone got feeling back in their feet we sat just outside the tea room and visited, but like very good guests, they didn’t stay long because they knew we had things to do.
My student and I had a bowl of tea and then cleaned up, closed the tea room and said goodbye. It was a very satisfying and fulfilling experience. This is why we study the way of tea.