Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony returns after three years

Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony returns after three years

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

A popular Tokyo autumn event is coming back after a three-year postponement due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Tokyo Daichakai,” or Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony, celebrates the art of chakai and is an annual event started in 2008 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council. Through the matcha tea ceremony, officials hope to promote Japanese tradition and culture domestically and abroad.

In Japan, the manner of serving and enjoying matcha tea is highly and strictly ritualized. The tea ceremony is considered an art that takes a lifetime to master. Since its establishment in the 16th century, the art has been developed by dozens of different schools and parties.

At Tokyo Daichakai, several schools participate to show the variety of ceremony styles with the “spirit of hospitality” in mind. You can see and experience both “chaseki” indoor ceremony and “nodate” outdoor ceremony styles during the event. Fortunately, some of the ceremonies will be in English to be inclusive to foreign attendees.

The event will be held on two weekends. First, on October 22 and 23, Hama-rikyu Garden near Shiodome Station, will open the Daichakai event. Then, on Oct. 29 and 30, the event will switch venues to the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. Admission for the ceremony expo at the garden is 300 yen, but free at the museum. You can participate in the event with a fee of 500 yen ($3.50), which includes matcha tea and sweets, besides admission to the gardens.

Daichakai will also have gagaku (ceremonial court music) performances and kagura (sacred Shinto music and dancing) with traditional Japanese instruments, adding to the ambiance.

Advanced registration is required, so apply by Sept. 25 if you plan to attend. Depending on the number of applicants, a lottery system may be used, and winners will be announced in early October. The event may also be canceled for COVID-19 prevention measures or inclement weather.

Tokyo Daichakai (Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony)

1. Hama-rikyu Garden

Location: 1-1 Hama-rikyu, Chuo-ku Tokyo
Date and Hours: Oct. 22 and 23, 10 a.m. – 4:20 p.m.
Garden admission: 300 yen

2. Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Location: 3-7-1 Sakura Town, Koganei City, Tokyo
Date and Hours: Oct. 29 and 30, 10 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Admission: Free

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