In Japan, the tea ceremony is more than an artistic pastime for preparation and presentation of matcha. The ideals which it represents can serve as potent tools for teaching children personal and social values.
Although I am Japanese, I was not taught about tea ceremony in school. I did not even see one until I was an adult.
I grew up in a typical Japanese three-generation family. We had a radio, a black and white TV and my aunts, uncles, and cousins lived within walking distance.
Back then, children like me learned their values for the most part by observing and interacting with family members and other children.
Times are different now. Modern families tend to be smaller resulting in fewer role models, and numerous external influences beyond parents’ control can impact children.
Ask any Japanese educator what he or she considers essential for teaching to children. Almost without exception, you will hear the followings:
- Manners (reigi-sahō)
- Being gentle (yasashi-sa)
- Being considerate (omoiyari)
- Acting in harmony with others (kyochosei)
The tea ceremony is a stunning art form for sure. Many foreigners can attest to that. However, it is, in essence, the purification of values which the Japanese consider important — manners, gentleness, consideration, and harmony.
I am so grateful to our schools and teachers who have stepped in to fill the void. Because of their efforts, we can all hopefully live in a better world when our children become adults.