One of the things Machida Gyotei sensei taught us about movement within the tea room is that when you are wearing kimono, only your feet are showing, so you want to make sure that you are walking, turning, sitting and standing in a way that doesn’t look awkward and call additional attention to your feet. Here are some of the points he emphasized:
- Walk in the center of the tatami
- Don’t drag your feet, but lightly skim the tatami to make a slight swish when you walk
- You should walk in the tea room as if you were trying not to kick up dust
- When sitting down, make sure your toes and heels are together
- Likewise when you are standing up, make sure your heels are together so people behind you can’t see all the way up your kimono.
- Stand up as if a string was pulling on your head straight up
- When turning from the temaeza, move your heel back at 45 degrees but don’t separate your feet too much
- Sit in front of your guest to serve sweets
- Move slightly to the side before standing up in front of someone. Slide straight back with one foot before turning away
One of the reasons we don’t step on the black lines separating tatami mats is because in olden times, tatami did not cover the entire floor. Only nobles sat on tatami. So there was a change in elevation between the tatami and floor. If you stepped on the black line, your foot would be partly on tatami and partly on the floor, very awkward.
Most of the movement within the tea room makes sense, and as Machida Gyotei sensei says, “try your best to follow these guidelines, but it won’t be the end of the world if you miss something.”