– Jill Fein
Before entering sensei Kyoko Gasha's NYC Sohen Style Dojo in May 2005,
my only previous encounter with cha-no-yu (Japanese tea ceremony)
had been a brief public demonstration at the Japan Society several
years earlier. It wasn't until I became Kyoko-sensei's student that
I realized just how beautiful, serene, and endlessly fascinating cha-no-yu
Studying cha-no-yu is an eye-opening experience, particularly for
American-born students like myself -- the tradition has no parallels
in western culture. Cha-no-yu is simultaneously an art, a discipline,
a meditation, and an intricately choreographed ritual, creating a
space in which the qualities of "wa" (harmony), "kei"
(respect), "sei" (purity), and "jaku" (tranquility)
unite to provide a memorable and uplifting experience for all participants
-- performer, assistant, host, first guest, and additional guests.
At NYC Sohen Style Dojo, students learn the skills required for each
type of cha-no-yu participant, so we may eventually be able participate
in any one of those roles with confidence. In the process, we also
learn many fascinating details about Japanese history, philosophy,
arts, and traditional customs. An additional benefit is the enjoyment
of delicately flavored imported matcha (ceremonial green tea) and
delicious, colorful chagashi (tea sweets) provided at each lesson.
Most gratifying of all is the opportunity to enter an oasis out of
time, completely unlike the often chaotic world around us. I look
forward to my cha-no-yu lessons as tranquil islands in the hectic
flow of New York life -- wonderfully calming, yet also mentally stimulating
because there is always more to learn about this remarkable tradition.
One could study cha-no-yu for decades and never be bored!
After over two years as a member of NYC Sohen Style Dojo, I still
feel I am at just the beginning of a lifetime adventure.... and with
Kyoko-sensei as my guide, I am eager to meet the challenges and rewards
that the Japanese Way of Tea offers to those who embark on the journey.
I invite New Yorkers of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, who love
Japanese culture and wish to experience its beauty more fully, to
join NYC Sohen Style Dojo.”