We went to the National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda today for Hanami Day (cherry blossom viewing). It ended up being a lovely day.
There was a *squee* moment when a woman in a Kimono walked past… ok, not a “Geisha” as such (and as it turns out, she’s apparently not Japanese either).. but hey, an Asian woman wearing a kimono – that’s close enough for me! As I walked up to Cathy she made a motion on her back… and just as I was wondering what the hell she was on about, I realised she was trying to motion about an Obi (the bit that goes aound the waist on a Kimono) – meaning “hey, there are Geisha!” and I’ve gone “I know!!!! – how cool!”
They had a woman doing calligraphy for $2, so we got MiniObsi’s done (she’s studying japanese at school so we thought it would be neat)…
and it turned out so pretty I decided to get all our names done and I’m going to frame them together and hang them on the wall somewhere.
I couldn’t decide whether to have my “real” name, or Obsi or Obsidian… so I ended up deciding on either Obsi or Obsidian, since it’s what I’m normally known as, and I asked the woman which would look better, so she drew them both, and I decided on the “Obsidian” – luckily I got to keep the paper she’d tested it on, so I’m going to frame it too.
Then after a bit of waiting around…. in the cherry grove which wasn’t as impressive as hoped (it’s those ornamental cherries we have growing all over the streets around here – and only a scattering of blosoms on them… but anyway).. they had a tea ceremony! I got to take part too.
First some posing for people (like me) to take photos
and another snap, because it’s not often you get to photograph women in Kimono… except they were moving on to set things up.
Then the tea ceremony started. A woman in a very spiffy Kimono went through the ritual of taking all the bits and pieces out of a laqured box, while the woman in red explained what was going on. Then she cleaned them…
She had a piece of silk and was folding it in particular ways and giving everything a wipe. This is apparently to show respect to the guests and the people who have made the utensils. I’m assuming the folding is done so it’s a clean surface each time? or maybe just to look mystical and cool…. either way, the whole ritualistic nature of the ceremony is impressive.
The tea was a green powder, and it is put into the bowl with the hot water and then whisked with a (bamboo?) wisky thing (technical term) to dissolve it and make it frothy. Apparently “normal” tea is brown because it is fermented, but the green tea powder is the tealeaves ground into powder form.
I must have been the only person looking like I was interested in what she was saying, because she spent most of the time looking at me when she spoke 😀
We were all given a little tray of sweets. Because the green tea is bitter, you have the sweets before drinking it and the residual sweetness helps. I ate a couple before the tea but I wanted to taste it in it’s non sweetened form. They were like crystals of sugar, but slightly flavoured. and the shape reminds me of blossoms. Very cute! I wanted to save them, but alas, I had nothing to keep them in and they were too tempting (plus I had to give a sample to MiniObsi and hubby).
This was my tea. Just a little bit because there were many of us, and I imagine not many people would have liked it. It tasted a bit like warm wheatgrass juice. Not unpleasant, but not as nice as something like chai 😀
There is a lot of ceremony with the bowls too. The bowl is turned to face the person you are giving it to, but then it is turned before drinking so that you don’t drink from the front (because this is disrespectful). I was a bit confused because I thought the front of my bowl would be the part with the decoration but it seems not? (maybe it was accidentally handed to me the wrong way) … but I turned it as I was supposed to.
I was pretty pleased to have had that opportunity to be part of a tea ceremony! and I asked the woman who had been explaining the ceremony if I could have a pic with her, celebrity that she was hahahaha
(note to self – don’t stand next to a slim glamorous Asian woman…)
Then it was time to leave… since we’d forgotten to pack a lunch and it was like 2pm… and a woman can’t live on tea alone (though if I did I might better resemble the aforementioned slim Asian woman…) and it was a 1km walk back to the park entrance… but we took the “low road” past the lake and pretty flowers… so we took some shots..
and then she wanted to take a pic of me, since I wouldn’t let her the other day because I looked frightful…. I still look frightful, but I had actually done my hair, so I had less of an excuse not to… and it didn’t turn out too hideous…
(actually these last 2 pics were taken when walking to the cherry grove, but you don’t know that and it really doesn’t matter….)