Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Preparing for Hatsugama

Although New Year’s Day has come and gone, we’re still gearing up for the beginning of our tea year – Hatsugama, the celebration of the first tea ceremony of the year.

Traditionally, this is done on New Year’s Day. If you’re truly hard-core, you can do Joyagama, the final tea of the year, the evening before, and then have another tea ceremony on January 1. We’re not that hard-core. Because many of our group have other plans for that time of year, and/or travel, we tend to have our first tea of the year late in January, and then start classes afterwards.

Hatsugama has become a challenge since our tea group moved to the Japanese House and Gardens. Because the Japanese House is, in fact, a traditional-style Japanese house, there’s no heat, which is an issue in Pennsylvania in January. After trying a couple of different solutions, we’re experimenting this year with having our gathering at the Horticultural Center, which is not in any way traditional Japanese architecture, but it has a nice, quiet room with windows to the outside and heat and running water and a number of other very attractive features for a winter gathering. We’ll see how it goes.

At this point, t-minus ten days, the menu is set, the utensils are chosen, the guests are invited, and we’re in the lull between the pre-gathering planning and the last-minute cooking rush. I’m really looking forward to this gathering, though – New Year’s is always a happy time of year, and a great time to enjoy the company of friends and renew ourselves.

I hope that you’re all enjoying the beginning of 2010 too!