Japanese Snow Viewing Tea Ceremony at Anderson Gardens

Staff Report

Rockford’s Anderson Japanese Gardens will offer a rare opportunity to participate in a yukimi chakai, a traditional Japanese Snow Viewing Tea Ceremony, Saturday, Feb. 2.

The demonstration will take place in Anderson Japanese Gardens’ 16th-century Sukiya-style Guest House at 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford.

Upon arriving, participants will gather in the Visitors’ Center, where they will enjoy a hot cup of genmaicha, roasted rice-flavored tea, while viewing the picturesque beauty of the gardens below.

Following this warm introduction, guests will be guided through the winter landscape to the Guest House. At the conclusion of the ceremony, participants are invited back to the Visitors’ Center to view an extraordinary display of tea bowls and other tea ceremony-related items that will be available for purchase.

Kimiko Gunji, professor emeritus of Japanese Traditional Arts and Culture and the former director of Japan House at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be the host of this event.

The tea bowls are crafted by Jason Armour, one of Gunji’s esteemed students. Armour’s goal is to help people “find beauty in plainness and tranquil simplicity through set naturalistic aesthetic values” — a concept derived from his interpretation of the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi.

Gunji explained: “As technology continually advances, human beings are so enraptured by its power and capability; however, through this captivation, they often succumb to surrendering the very element that makes them human: the use of their five senses. My concentration is to impart to those with whom I encounter through my teachings and my art the significance of becoming a fine human being through the vitalization of the senses and the natural manifestation of one’s kokoro.”

The Japanese word kokoro can be translated into “mind, spirit and heart.”

Tea ceremony times will be 10:30-11:10 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m.; 1-1:40 p.m.; and 2-2:40 p.m. Cost is $25 per person. Reservations are required. Space is limited to 15 participants for each of the Tea Ceremony times. For reservations or more information, contact Katie Weston at (815) 316-3306 or by e-mail at kweston@andersongardens.org.

Professor Gunji will also teach the proper tea-serving procedures Sunday, Feb. 3. The class will be from 10 a.m. until noon and is limited to 10 participants. The cost is $25 per participant and reservations are required.

From the Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2013, issue

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