Anne Paule Art Gallery

Gaijin at a Tea Ceremony

While in Tokyo, some Japanese friends took me to a tea ceremony in a crowded old traditional wooden house. The panels of the walls were open to display a well-kept garden that surrounded a pond. Some of the women were wearing colorful kimonos in lovely patterns. Everyone was happy, and bowing hello.

I was the only foreigner there which meant that everytime I heard the word "Gaijin" (foreigner) and saw more than two people looking my way, I knew that they were wispering about me. I was used to this, it didn't bother me in the least.

During the tea ceremony, I was conscious of their critical eye but my friends helped me do everything properly. I admired the cup when it was my turn to hold it, I drank the tea, holding the cup in the appropriate manner all the while sitting on my knees on the tatami mat floor.

After the ceremony, everyone got up to leave, except for a couple of girls who were looking at me, giggling, waiting for something. I smiled and as I started to get up they seemed pleased that they had anticipated my fall. This unfortunate incident seems to happen to people who are not used to sitting on their knees and do not realize that their legs are asleep.
Since I was a "Gaijin" they had expected that I would be a novice at sitting for an hour on my knees and they were right. They watched as I fell over and laughed heartily, covering their mouths as some Japanese girls are prone to do.

When they had had their fun it was time for them to get up. Then, I watched as one of them fell over with a very surprised look on her face. So I felt obliged to then point at her and laugh.