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Hakone Gardens

When asked what to bring to class, the first item to bring is just yourself. Leave the distractions of the rest of the world behind and enter tea focused on the moment at hand. An important aspect of tea is the meditative and tranquil atmosphere created by the ceremony.

Visitors do not need to bring any of the following. Students, however, should purchase and bring:
  • Sensu: a fan
  • Kaishi: paper for food and cleaning
  • Youji: an eating stick (for women)
  • Fukusa: a cleaning cloth (purple for men and orange for women)
  • Dashibukusa: a brocaded cloth

Student class fees are usually placed in an envelope and left on a table outside the tea room. If the teacher has a basket outside the tea room, use it. If not, place the envelope on the top self of the mizuya (washing area or “kitchen”).

Kimonos are not required for beginning students. Instead, comfortable clothing that allow for kneeling is needed. Avoid shorts, above-the-knees skirts (uncomfortable), or jeans (too abrasive on the tatami). Additionally, a belt or other means of tucking the cleaning cloth in should be included in the clothing chosen for class, if you are a host.

Remove necklaces, bracelets, watches and rings. These objects can strike fragile tea utensils, causing them to chip or break.

Knives and weapons are not appropriate in a tea house.

Bring a pair of white socks (or white tabi) to change into. Shoes can damage the tatami flooring.

If this will be your first experience with the Japanese tea ceremony, some things to know include:
  • A simple thin tea ceremony takes between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the specific ceremony performed.
  • Conversation, during the ceremony, tends to be focused on the ceremony itself. Other topics are usually discussed afterwards.
  • When you first enter a tea room, take a moment to observe the setting. There is often a scroll or flowers on display for you. When you are ready, sit across from where the host's utensils are located.
  • If you can sit seiza (kneeling) comfortably, please do so. If you cannot, being comfortable is more important.
  • As a guest, you cannot do anything wrong or incorrectly. Relax and enjoy.