At Touzanso, a taste of Japanese tradition for international students
Located on the east bank plateau of the Yamazaki River in Nagoya, a mountain villa built in the Taisho period offers tea ceremonies, hanamichi (flower paths), and reading sessions in beautiful gardens. A trip to partake in a tea ceremony tutorial at Touzanso offered our international students, many new to Japan, a first taste of an age-old tradition.
Surya Lashmi, Fall 2022 Exchange Student (IIM Calcutta, India)
For anyone new to Japan, the unique way in which culture is preserved amid the country's modern, futuristic setting is simply fascinating. The tea ceremony or 'sado' is one such practice, as we found out in our experience of this centuries-old custom. We met at Tozanso, an idyllic garden with a traditional cottage that was a startling contrast from the bustling city center. Our host, along with her daughter, was warm and welcoming. She told us about the origin and history of the tea ceremony before ushering us into a traditional tearoom lined with tatami mats. We learned about etiquette at tea ceremonies and how it was built around respect and heritage. Served warm matcha tea (quite a shock to some of our taste buds!), we also enjoyed 'wagashi' sweets that came with a Halloween twist. A well-spent Monday morning, the experience left us knowing a little more about Japan's traditions passed down through the generations.
Mogale Sekgobela, Class of 2024 MBA Candidate
I generally love tea. Coming from South Africa where we have plenty of rooibos tea, more than one cup a day is standard. Though the tea is made from an evergreen shrub of the plant family Fabaceae, it is not regarded as green tea but affectionately known as red tea or bush tea. I have had some green leafy teas before and being introduced to the world of Matcha tea during the Tea Ceremony was an exciting experience. Learning about the Matcha's benefits (which includes aiding focus, relaxation, and energization) and preparation process were some key takeaways. Of course not forgetting the emphasis on selecting the right utensils when preparing the tea. Despite the language barrier, our guide endeavored to answer questions regarding the history, current practices and etiquette of the "Way of Tea". Hopefully I will stock up on some Matcha to stay academically focused, who knows!
Extracurricular cultural enrichment trips and activities are great opportunities to supplement the learning done in the classroom. Whether it's from visiting a historical site or taking a factory or museum tour, lasting memories of new experiences help shape international students' understanding of the different ways in which ideas, along with goods and services, are exchanged from culture to culture.