Updated: Dec 21, 2020
One beautiful Sunday morning at the beginning of Spring I had the honour and pleasure of accompanying my Tea Ceremony teacher to an amazing traditional grass-hut tea house on a nearby island called Hirado to experience the Way of Tea in a historical and authentic atmosphere.
Kanuntei Teahouse was built in 1893 by order of the 37th head of the Matsura family, Matsura Akira (Shingetsu). It is a pure and simple sōan (grass hermitage) style tearoom based on the original ideas of tea master Sen no Rikyu. It is presently housed within the gardens of the Matsura Historical Museum and was a pleasant surprise to me the first time I stumbled upon it while on a visit during the previous Summer.
This particular Tea House specializes in the Samurai style of Tea Ceremony which I have been practicing for the past 2 years. It is extremely rustic and incorporates unpretentious building techniques of a rural farm house, made almost entirely of natural materials. The original building collapsed during a typhoon in 1987 but was carefully reconstructed in its original form.
At the Kanuntei teahouse you can enjoy a bowl of matcha tea prepared according to the Chinshin style of tea which my Tea Ceremony teacher also serves at this very Tea House atleast once a month.
Tea is served with a traditional sweets made in Hirado which changes every month.
FUN FACT: the Chinshin Style of Tea (which I practice) was founded by the 29th head of the family, Matsura Shigenobu who wrote in ‘The Origin of the Tea Ceremony’ that:
`samurai should be accomplished in both the literary and military arts and the way of the tea is a refined way to train in both. One should not aim for softness but for strength and beauty`.
While at the Tea House I took the opportunity to experience as much as I could, including entering through the nijiriguchi (narrow entrance) as well as simulating the procedure for a formal tea ceremony presentation all while asking my teacher for explanations and assistance when needed.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to observe a full tea ceremony preparation on the day but the tea host for the day was kind enough to show us around the tea house including the ingenuity of the sliding doors which are used to lock up/ secure the tea house at the end of each day.
The grounds, atmosphere and overall simplicity of the Kanuntei Tea House are all exactly what I envision in my mind whenever I think about a traditional tea House and I will hold this image in my mind as I endeavour to recreate the tea ceremony experience in Jamaica.
The Tea (House) Lady