Have you ever visited our tea ceremony room? Right in the middle of our elementary school wing, is our quiet and peaceful tea room, where we can dive into the world of Japanese tea ceremony. We are blessed to be able to house an authentic and beautiful tea room and are proud of the long history our tea ceremony students and teachers have established. At Canadian Academy, everybody in the school community, including students, staff members, and parents, has a chance to study tea ceremony.
'Tea ceremony has the power to connect us as humans, wherever we come from and whichever language we speak.'
As Ms. Mizushima, a former tea ceremony teacher at CA for over 20 years, says, the tea ceremony practice is not only about learning how to make tea; it's more about the mindset and hospitality.
Tea ceremony at CA started more than 40 years ago. It started as a PTA activity and became an afterschool club in 1990.
'Many of the students joined the tea ceremony just because they were curious to eat wagashi (Japanese sweets), but they got fascinated little by little as they understood the world of tea.' Ms. Mizushima reflects on the time when she was teaching.
The spirit of tea ceremony supported our students when school resumed after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which occurred in 1995. At that time, all after school clubs and activities, including tea ceremony, were paused, due to interrupted public transportation and extensive commute hours for students and teachers. Until one day, when some students from the tea ceremony club suggested:
'Why don't we resume tea ceremony? It will help us stay calm.'
Upon consideration, we started to offer tea ceremony as an extracurricular activity during school hours for high school students. It is still offered today, and is now also considered as a CAS activity. This year, 26 students and five staff members take part in tea ceremony.
The current tea room was transformed and transferred from its original location in a different part of the school in 2006. 'This is the best place to indulge in Japanese culture. It smells like charcoal, and I feel so peaceful.' says a tea ceremony student.
'和 (harmony) 敬 (respect) 清 (clear mind) 寂 (calmness). I always talk about these principles in my tea ceremony lesson. I like to discuss this mentality with my students, saying it's also connected with our daily lives.' Ms. Smailes, the tea ceremony coordinator, says.
In March, the tea ceremony students will be inviting their peers from elementary and secondary school for a tea ceremony experience demonstration. There will also be a tea ceremony booth at the Food and Fun Fair in April. These are great opportunities for the students to share their tea ceremony experiences, and for the school community to learn from the tea ceremony students.
Tea ceremony has been an essential part of our school identity. We continue to embrace this cultural opportunity and support our students to deepen their understanding of the local culture.