Japanese tea ceremony
just the tonic for pre-exam nerves

Harmony, respect, purity, tranquillity - the four main concepts of a Japanese tea ceremony were on display at Mt Roskill Grammar School in October.
A boy sitting on the floor holding a cup of Chinese tea

The tea ceremony was both a learning exercise and a great way for students to relax prior to their exams

Teacher Yuki Kojima organised the tea ceremony with help from an Experience Asia grant provided by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The students learnt about the history and culture of the tea ceremony, including the intricate etiquette involved.

They whisked their own matcha tea (ground green tea), served it in the traditional way and, of course, drank their brews.

Miss Kojima says the students enjoyed learning about Japanese culture in a more practical sense.

When we learn languages we also learn cultures. Especially with the students who have been learning Japanese, it is a great experience to join the tea ceremony lesson.

“They [the students] have seen the tea ceremony in the textbook or media, but they have never participated in a real tea ceremony, so they found the experience very interesting.”

The tea ceremony has become something of an end-of-year tradition for senior Japanese-language students at Mount Roskill Grammar.

Year 13 students Tessa Brown and Aczelah Rada have participated in similar tea ceremonies in previous years at the school and this year they were asked to step up as leaders and share their knowledge with younger students.

The two senior students acted as hosts of the event and taught the other students about the etiquette involved.

They emphasised a key theme of the Japanese tea ceremony, “ichi go, ichi e”, which is roughly translated to “the same meeting as today’s will never happen again”.

As well as being a great learning exercise, Miss Kojima explains the tea ceremony has a meditative quality that gives senior students an opportunity to relax before their NCEA exams.

“The tea ceremony includes various parts of Japanese culture. Tea ceremony is not only whisking tea, also we can give the students time to relax and appreciate the tranquil atmosphere before the seniors have stressful external exam preparation.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation director of education Sean O’Connor says the tea ceremony is a fantastic example of how schools can bring an Asian culture into the classroom.

“It's great to see Experience Asia funding utilised in this way to increase cultural understanding of Japan while also assisting students in their exam preparation."

New Zealand schools have the opportunity to receive Experience Asia funding for holding an event that enables students to experience Asian cultural activities and/or increases students' knowledge and understanding of Asia.