Early February 75 middle school students in Canyon Country, northern suburb of Los Angeles, set aside their texting and twittering to quietly focus on the traditional art of Japanese tea ceremony. They showed great appreciation of the occasion.
This was the 10th year that Mme. Fumi Akutagawa of Moorpark and her students presented an introduction to Japanese culture through o-bontemae tea ceremony at the lunchtime program at Sierra Vista Middle School in Canyon Country. This program has been presented by Lorraine Fulleman, librarian.
Mme. Akutagawa is a teacher of the Edo-senke Kansetsu-kai, one of major tea schools in Japan. Also, the students heard Mr. Julian Ely from the Japan Information and Culture Center of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles. He spoke about the importance of cross-cultural understanding and friendship.
The students gathered to learn a little about the various arts which are woven into tea ceremony including chabana, calligraphy, pottery, lacquer-ware and bamboo-ware.
Under the red umbrella, a small flower arrangement with narcissus reminded us of the beginning of spring in California. On display was a very old scroll.
In the newly remodeled library, a tanabata (star festival) decoration of golden crane origami donated by the LA Tokyo-kai, Japanese fraternity of people from Tokyo, was also on display.
After the demonstration, each student had a sweet and a taste of the usucha tea. Kassidi Smith, a 12-year-old 7th grader said, “I felt relaxed when I was drinking the tea. I liked the taste.”
Diego Gonzalez, also a 12-year-old 7th grader said, “The tea tasted good. I would like to drink it again.” We hope this experience will encourage the students to explore further the joys of Japanese culture.
(Reported by Carol Hyland of Simi Valley. Ms. Hyland is a student of Mme. Akutagwa)