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Hidden away down a residential street in Pasadena, CA is a 2 acre Japanese garden that is on a private estate. It’s a fascinating place that is now open to the public. When you enter it there is an almost Secret Garden feel to it, as if you have stumbled upon a place about to be reclaimed by nature. It is not immaculately kept like so many other Japanese gardens you visit. Once a month they hold a tea ceremony demonstration by a teacher of the Urasenke school of tea and they also often have cultural demonstrations and events.
It is the 6th tea ceremony I have had the honor of attending and the 10th Japanese Garden I have visited in the United States. So I brought out one of my best kimono, it’s a silk caramel colored tsukesage with peonies (known as botan in Japan). Peonies are in “kimono” season until April. I tried a new hairstyle that I saw on a YouTube tutorial and I think it turned out pretty good even though it’s the first time I’ve done a Dutch braid before!
There are 3 tea schools Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushakōjisenke. I learned something new from the instructor that I hadn’t heard before – the way they foam the top of the tea is what marks it as Urasenke. Urasenke will have a full foam top while a school like Omotesenke will have a half moon of foam. So interesting! She also described how they grow the tea and even how they dry it and store it so that it maintains it’s green color. Matcha can also be very expensive. The one she she had was $50 for about 3 oz, but it can be much more expensive than that!
I managed to sit on my feet properly through most of it, but right at the end they were definitely falling asleep. I wonder how one “builds up” to being able to sit on their knees and feet for hours?!
For more information on the garden and upcoming events, visit their website at:
A visit to San Kei En in San Diego’s Balboa Park is always a pleasure! If you have a chance to visit on one of the Sundays that Niwa-san is dressing people in kimono I’d suggest making your reservation and have fun walking around the garden! (Final Sunday of every month)
Check here for price and more info: http://www.niwa.org/jfg-events/kimono
Check here for more events at San Kei En: http://www.niwa.org/program-calendar/