Even if you’re not planning a trip to Japan, Gallery Okubo’s special Japanese tea ceremony will lure you in. Guests can try drinking Japanese tea from unique antique bowls that cost over $25,000!
Sip on True Japanese Tea
At Gallery Okubo in Tokyo’s Yanaka district, tourists can experience a real Japanese ceremony. Originally an antique dealer shop owner, Mitsuru Okubo also helps visitors experience the culture of his country. Yet, the ceremony he and his family hold is not that simple, as guests can drink tea out of antique bowls. Some of them are over 300 years old and cost up to $25,000! “This surely costs a lot,” you must be thinking, but the price is more than affordable for such an outstanding experience – 2,200 yen ($16) per person. Scared to hold such an important historical piece in your hands? Don’t worry, there’s a simple alternative for both adults and kids to use.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors will see the stand with all the old cutlery right away. It’s accompanied by antiques like plates and bowls. Atsuko, Okubo’s daughter, is there to greet the visitors and lead them up to the second floor, where the tea ceremony usually takes place. In case the tourists are Western, they don’t have to sit with their legs crossed and can use the chairs – they are situated on a sunken floor for a more comfortable setting. Nearby, there’s a small room with tea bowls, where customers get to choose their own. Of course, Atsuko explains the history of the bowls in either Japanese or English. This presentation was her idea all along – it boosted the sales and let the family make money off their collection.
Truly Unique Tea Ceremony Experience
When Okubo talks about the cups, his love for antiques streams right into the visitors’ hearts. The collection includes a dark bowl from Belgium, that had another purpose, a colorful modern-looking one at the $15,000 mark, and one of the oldest pieces that is over 200 years old. The latter one may seem very imperfect because it lacks symmetry and perfect coloration. Yet, Okubo disregards those points and holds the bowl close to his heart. “Imperfection is human,” he comments. “Perfect is for robots. This bowl is a robot,” he says about the modern-day bowl that costs $100. That one looks nearly perfect! Kids and scared visitors usually use that one for the tea ceremony.
Atsuko is also the one who usually leads the ceremony, following all rules of a classic Japanese tea drinking process. While she makes the tea, the visitors get their special sweet treat – a cake of jelly and bean paste shaped like a hydrangea flower. Sometimes when they taste the tea, it’s easy to forget that it was poured into antique $25,000 bowls because it’s so delicious. Surprising how the whole process costs just $16 for an individual. But there are more gifts to receive, including hand-drawn pictures of the bowls the tourists used from Atsuko’s father. He does the drawings from memory and writes down their history briefly.
Want to have the same experience? It’s better to book the Japanese tea ceremony in advance!