Do You Know?

Do you know…? (今月のおすすめ) – Tea Edition

This is a new column for the new year, a chance to hear or tell about about pop cultural things of interest that others may not know about Japan. You know the kind of thing… Indie bands. Must-have foods. Must-avoid foods. Kigurumi onesies. The sort of thing where you turn to someone over a bowl of ramen (which is how this column was created) and say “Do you know…?” and it leads into a wild explanation and everyone saying “え〜〜〜〜〜???”

early winter tea sm

I’m a tea junkie and I’m starting things off, so I’ll begin with the following:

Do you know Hōnsai, the retired iemoto of the Urasenke school of tea, used to be a kamikaze pilot? With the guy who later became the retired daimyo in the Mito Komon TV series? Hōnsai’s bitter wartime experiences led him to seek a gentler way, exporting chanoyu to the world as a global peace initiative: “peace through a bowl of tea”. The Asahi Shimbun just did a multi-part profile of him last summer and it makes you wish he was your grandad. He’s just that kinda guy.

Bonus tea thing from Helen Kong: Do you know the Ocha Morishiki giant tea bowl ceremony in Nara? At Saidaiji on the 15th of January every year, they whisk up giant communal bowls (30 – 40 cm in diameter) of matcha to share. The whisk they use is the size of a housecat. People who drink the tea sometimes need help to support the bowl because it’s anime-big. I desperately want to try this!

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you know that we totally SHOULD know. Write me at, and we’ll dazzle the JETAA world with your knowledge!

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