-ICHIGO ICHIE- ZEN spirit and Japanese tea ceremony


ICHIGO ICHIE (一期一会) ZEN spirit


Have you ever heard phrase “ICHIGO ICHIE”(一期一会) in Japanese?

This is ZEN spirit.



It means, “once in a life time meeting”.

This spirit comes from the Japanese tea ceremony.

Japanese tea ceremony

Japanese tea ceremony

The Tea ceremony has a deep connection with ZEN spirits.

When I tried the Japanese tea ceremony for the first time, I was surprised that the tea ceremony has so many rules.

Before, I used to think the tea ceremony was just a simple act of making green tea.

But every single movement has to be done followed by rules, such as, which leg you use to step into the room with first, how you hold the tools, where you put your tools, in which angle you move your arms, and how you open the tea container, how you hold the whisk and how you stir, and so on…

It’s just about a process that takes only a few minutes, however there are hundreds of etiquettes.

I was overwhelmed when I took part in the ceremony.

Then I started to wonder, why there are so many rules…

The tea ceremony teacher told me this was because of “ICHIGO ICHIE”(一期一会) – “ZEN spirit.”

Tea ceremony is an occasion when you enjoy every single moment.

The people gathering, the weather, the place, the sound, every element gets together and makes it an unforgettable event.

There is the spirit of “OMOTENASHI”(おもてなし), meaning Japanese Hospitality in this ceremony.

To make the most of the moment with the greatest hospitality,  the tea master tries to do her or his best of making green tea.

For example, purifying the tools followed by the rules, the tea master shows respect to the guests.

That is the reason why there are so many rules.

By following the rules, the best moment is made, and the guests and the master can experience a great “once in a life time moment”.

“ICHIGO ICHIE”(一期一会) teaches us that the exact each moment we meet with others in our life never comes back and only one time, so we should make the most of it and give our best hospitality with appreciation.

Koi fish swimming calligraphy ZEN art

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