Only Tea Ceremony venue to win
The Tripadvisor Travelers Choice Award
5 years in a row (2018-2022)
Traditional Tea Ceremony KYOTO
KYOTO MAIKOYA offers traditional tea ceremony in the historic Gion district and the Kyoto city center with the option of wearing kimono. The award-winning tea ceremony lasts for 45 minutes and costs $22 ( $48 with kimono). While the kimono tea ceremony is available from 9 AM to 5 PM every hour in downtown Kyoto, the geisha tea ceremony is only held once a day.
*The tea ceremony is traditionally performed with the knees on the floor but you can sit comfortably. Chairs will also be provided upon request.
Tea Ceremony in the historical scenic townhouse
MAIKOYA owns two historic traditional townhouses in Kyoto. Both locations feature picturesque Japanese tea gardens, offering visitors a wonderful opportunity to experience authentic Japanese culture.
KYOTO MAIKOYA at NISHIKI
Registered as a tangible cultural property by the local government, MAIKOYA NISHIKI branch is conveniently located near Nishiki Market and Teramachi Shopping Street, making it a prime location for exploration.
MAIKOYA is the only facility in Kyoto where you can experience real kimono and tea ceremony in the same place.
We provide a variety of sizes and styles for kimonos, suitable for everyone! Girls and ladies will be given a hairstyle suitable for their kimonos.
You can take many photos by wearing an authentic kimono in the beautiful Japanese gardens of a traditional Kyoto townhouse.
You can even wear your kimonos outside after your tea ceremony, and take a stroll down the historical town.
Tea Ceremony in Kyoto
*Children under 7 can not enter the tea ceremony venue.
Japanese Sweets Making + Kimono + Tea Ceremony
- Making Japanese seasonal confectionery.
- Wear traditional Japanese kimono.
- Traditional tea ceremony led by a host who speaks English.
- Drinking Japanese green tea and eating the confectionery that you made.
Kimono Tea Ceremony for Kids (ages 7-12) and Families
(Approx. 90min - 120min)
If you are traveling with children under the age of 12, please choose this plan.
Our tea ceremony is the perfect opportunity to teach kids the importance of focus and being mindful.
Geisha or Maiko Tea Ceremony & Show
- You join a traditional tea ceremony session led by the geisha or maiko (an apprentice geisha).
- The geisha or maiko performs her traditional dance.
- There is an MC hosting the performance who would also explain meaning and symbolism regarding of the geisha. Have a conversation with the geisha / maiko with the presence of an interpreter.
- Take many photos with the geisha / maiko.
Watch a short introductory movie about our tea house.
Kimono Tea Ceremony Maikoya was recently featured in the Japan National Tourism Bureau’s (JNTO) recommended itinerary video.
Why Tea ceremony in Kyoto?
- Because it is like traveling in time as you practice this ancient ritual in the same area where it was born and flourished 400 years ago.
- The three most common tea ceremony schools were established in Kyoto.
- Kyoto has been considered the cultural capital of Japan.
- Kyoto tea ceremony has already been the topic of many movies and dozens of academic studies.
- This experience is one that is a definite must on a Japanese vacation bucket list.
Why tea ceremony at Maikoya?
- The staff will help you put on a traditional kimono and do your hair which will make this experience authentic, memorable and informational.
- A friendly host who speaks English will walk you through step by step of a traditional tea ceremony.
- You will use the unique utensils and have an explanation of the delicate moves of your host as she prepares your tea.
- After the host, you will make your own tea by using traditional tools.
- A friendly tea host will explain the correct etiquette and symbolism for this ceremony in plain English.
- You can also freely visit Maikoya's tea ceremony museum with authentic tea ceremony artifacts dating back to 1600's.
- You will have an opportunity to try traditional sweets given during this ritual.
- The ceremony will be held in a traditional tatami tea room with beautiful historic decor.
- Opportunities for taking photographs will be highlighted throughout.
- Nowhere else can you discover the cultural history and refined technique used in every action and item witnessed throughout this ceremony.
Why You Should Visit Kyoto?
The word Kyoto means “capital” and it has been the cultural capital of Japan for more than 1000 years. Many domestic travelers from Tokyo and other parts of Japan also visit Kyoto where the kabuki culture, geisha culture, kimono tradition and the noh theater were born. The whole Kyoto City is like an open air museum as there are 1600 temples, 800 shrines, 17 UNESCO sites, thousands of historic machiya townhouses and hundreds of national treasures located in the area. In the ancient times, Kyoto was chosen as the capital because of its safe location surrounded by mountains that is earthquake and typhoon resistant. Kyoto’s historic neighborhoods were not damaged during the WWII and Kyoto City has strict regulations on the skyline and city planning to preserve the traditional atmosphere. Without visiting Kyoto you may never understand what Japan really is.
Where is Our Teahouse?
- Our main teahouse is located near Gion-Shijo train station between the Kamo River and Nishiki Market. Kamo River flows in the middle of the city with many historic bridges. Nishiki Market is one of the largest and oldest traditional food markets in Kyoto that stretches five blocks near the Teramachi Street Established by the Regent Hideyoshi Toyotomi in the 16th century. Gion area has always been considered as a prestigious area of Kyoto being home to the Minamiza Kabuki Theater, Yasaka Shrine and the Gion Geisha district. Gion became more popular after the famous movie the Memoirs of Geisha hit the screens and the Kyoto Protocol was held in the year 2005.
- After you perform the tea ceremony, you can walk to the Pontocho in 5 minutes for lunch or dinner. Pontocho is right behind the Kamo River, a little creek that was used as a transportation canal by merchants in the 1800s. You can also get to Nishiki market in 3 minutes to test more than 100 kinds of freshly made street food and also check out the Samurai & Ninja Museum to learn more about Kyoto’s history. If you are interested in the mysterious world of Geisha, you can reach the Gion Hanamikoji Street in 8 minutes on foot and watch a real geisha performance and take a guided tour of the Geisha teahouses.
- You can easily walk to our teahouse on foot if you are staying at a hotel in the downtown area as our venue is not far from the city center. The closest subway station to our teahouse is Hankyu Kawaramachi which is less than 30 seconds away and ideal if you are coming from Osaka. The 2nd closest station is the 5-minute-walk Gion-Shijo Keihan Station which is a good option if you are coming from or going to the famous Fushimi Inari 1000 gates. If you are coming from the Kyoto Station Area, then, simply take the subway and get off at the Shijo Station, you will need to walk less than 10 minutes. If you are coming from or going to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, simply use the Kawaramachi Subway Station near our teahouse.
Kyoto sightseeing spots
- Kiyomizu Temple: One of the oldest Buddhist temples. Most visited tourist spot. Near Yasaka Shrine. Near Gion district.
- Fushimi Inari Shrine: 1000 gates. The most picturesque spot. Near Tofukuji temple (famous during the Fall). Go early in the morning or late afternoon.
- Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion. Picturesque view but not much to do nearby.
- Arashiyama: Bamboo Forest : Standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo. Monkey Park : You can hang out with monkeys.
- Nijo Castle: Historic castle with nightingale floors. Closes early (4pm).
- Kyoto Samurai & Ninja Museum: Guided tour of Japan’s history, samurai and ninja experience, and more.
- Nishiki Market: One of the most well known flea markets. Great for food lovers.
- Geisha Experience Gion MAIKO CHAYA: The venue that holds tea ceremony and show led by a real geisha.
- Teramachi shopping arcade: Many souvernir shops and specialty stores.
- Imperial Palace: The residence of the emperor until the Meiji period.
- Ginkakuji Temple: A temple that symbolizes the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period.
- Sanjusangendo: Many wooden statues of giant Goddesses.
- Ryoanji: Famous zen garden.
- Nara: It is a separate city but less than 1 hour away from Kyto. Nara is the first capital of Japan. Many deers roaming the parks and UNESCO heritage sites.
What is tea ceremony?
The japanese tea ceremony or matcha drinking ritual is the traditional way of drinking grean tea leaves after eating Japanese sweets. This particular way of making and drinking tea has many specific rules including the way of boiling tea, pouring tea, tea room design, the way of interaction between the host and guest. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu, sado, chadou or ocha.
Why is the tea ceremony important?
The tea ceremony is very important in Japanese Culture because it used to be practiced only by the elite zen monks and noble warlords for most of history. While some Japanese perform tea ceremonies as just a hobby today, most people consider it a form of traditional arts and call it the art of tea.
What is the purpose of tea ceremony?
The main purpose of tea ceremony is improving the bonding between the host and the guest and also gaining a peace of mind in our busy daily lives. Tea ceremony has many deep meanings and implications, it would be an understatment to just mention a simple purpose.Reading the books and studies on tea ceremony one realizes that the meditation aspect of tea ceremony is the most common followed by the bonding.
How long does a tea ceremony last?
There are different kinds of tea ceremonies (formal, casual, small group, large group, etc.). The informal tea ceremony (chakai) with a small group lasts 30 minutes to 1 hour. A formal tea ceremony gathering with a kaiseki meal (chaji) can last up to 4 hours. An additional time may be needed if the guests have to change clothes or wait at the tea garden during the preparations.
What is the history of Japanese tea ceremony? When did tea ceremony begin? Where did the tea ceremony originate from?
Tea leaves were brought to Japan by Eisai a Buddhist monk who traveled to Chine in the 12th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries It was drunk by young monks in order to not to fall asleep and also by the elite samurai as a leisure activity. In the late 1500's Sen no Rikyu from Osaka turned it into a ritual by introducing the “ichi-go-ichi-e” philosophy (cherish every encounter) and promoting the wabi-sabi aspect (beauty in imperfection and simplicity). During the Edo period the freshest batch of green tea from Kyoto was considered to be more precious than pure gold and the tea caddy of a samurai was as important as his sword.
When do Japanese perform tea ceremony?
Tea ceremony is usually performed when guests are invited to someone’s tea room. Guests are invited to celebrate special occasions and seasonal changes such as the cherry blossom, fall leaves, the new years eve, arrival of the freshest tea leaves of the season and etc..
What kind of tea is used for tea ceremony?
Freshly powdered matcha tea leaves are used for tea ceremony. The quality of green tea usually depends whether the top leaves or bottom leaves are picked. Top 2 leaves in the first harvest season tend to be the highest quality while the bottom 5 leaves in the third batch tend to be the lowest quality. If green tea leaves are roasted it is called hojicha.
What kind of sweets are used for the tea ceremony?
There are two kinds of sweets. Dry sweets (higashi). They are made out of sweet rice powder pressed in the wooden molds. Higashi sweets always change by season particularly in the spring (sakura flavors) and the fall (maple-leave shaped sweets). These kinds of sweets are only used in chakai informal gatherings. Monogashi sweets are moist sweets. These sweets tend to have the mixture of flour and rice powder on the outside and the red bean paste inside. They also change by every season.
What is Tea Ceremony Etiquette?
Japanese tea ceremony etiquette is similar to showing basic social manners such as being on time, wearing a clean pair of socks, and keeping quiet during the ceremony. Additionally, participants should not forget to take their shoes off when entering the building, put their cell phones on the manner mode, bow to the host, and abstain from using heavy fragrances.
It is expected that participants will wear a kimono or at least dress up conservatively. Hiding jewelry and watches would be ideal but not necessary. While everyone must be quiet when the host is purifying the tools, they are supposed to compliment the bowls and seasonal flowers at the end of the tea ceremony. When the host initiates the conversation, the topics should not be about personal matters but relate to the tea ceremony and seasonal changes.
The etiquette and expected manners may also depend on whether the guest is a beginner or not. For instance, advanced practitioners must bring their paper fans and sit on their knees for the whole time, but for first-timers failing to do so would not be considered a social faux pas. Additionally, most Japanese eat traditional sweets in three pieces and drink the tea in 3 sips. However, foreigners do not necessarily have to consider these as strict rules. On the other hand, one simple rule most beginners ignore is making the “slurping sound” after finishing the tea, which indicates the guest has finished drinking tea and enjoyed all of it.
History of Tea Ceremony
How did the Japanese tea ceremony start? The history of Japanese tea ceremonies begins with the arrival of the first tea leaves during the Nara period when there was so much influence from China. Back then, tea was used mostly as a medicine and only available to the rulers and the noble families. Later Zen monks used tea leaves to stay awake during late-night prayers.
Sen no Rikyu is a man who lived in the late 1500s and trained many warlords. He is considered the founder of the tea ceremony. He introduced the four main principles of tea ceremony: WA, KE, SEI, and JAKU (harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility). He also popularized the tea ceremony flowers and the WABI SABI style ceremony, which roughly means “simple is the best.” “The way of tea” cannot be understood without reading the principles of Sen no Rikyu. Unfortunately, Sen no Rikyu was punished by execution ordered by the regent, who was his student. The reason is still unknown today.
Over the years Japanese turned a simple tea drinking activity into a ritual where bonding and gaining peace of mind became the main aspects. In medieval times the samurai class used tea ceremonies for forming political alliances. Nowadays, the tea ceremony is practiced as a form of art and a unique cultural tradition.
The Meaning of Tea Ceremony: Ichi Go Ichi E
The founder of the tea ceremony Sen no Rikyu stated that the meaning of tea ceremony means being present at the moment and realizing that every moment only occurs once. His philosophy is known as ichi go ichi e : one time – one meeting. This phrase roughly translates as “every moment occurs only once” or “cherish every moment” or “once in a lifetime chance.”
The tea ceremony is not about the taste. It is all about enjoying the moment and remembering that this moment will never repeat. We have to forget about everything and just focus on drinking tea in harmony. Even when two people meet in the same room and drink from the same cup, it is not the same moment. The tea meeting, which may seem like a simple routine, should be deeply enjoyed as that tea moment will never come back.
What is the connection between tea ceremony and meditation?
Tea ceremony is mostly about bonding between the host and the guest but it is for sure a meditational activity as the great founder Sen no Rikyu called “jaku” (tranquility) one of the main elements of tea ceremony. Then one may ask why it is different from any other tea drinking activity and why it may lead to mindfulness and the ultimate peace of mind. At MAIKOYA we tell our guests that the answers lay in the basic elements of zen philosophy which are also deeply embedded in the culture of Japan. These are: Transience, Presence, Selflessness, Acceptance of Life as it is.
The term Zen may be difficult to define, but it can be referred to as mindfulness and the idea that simple actions can lead to the awakening of spirits. There are a lot of similarities between the main principles of the tea ceremony (harmony, respect, tranquility) and the philosophy of zen (mindfulness, nothingness, transience).
Tea ceremony involves following several prescribed steps, so one does not have to think about the next step and gain inner peace while performing this ritualistic activity. That is why the tea ceremony cannot be considered separately from Zen. We should also remember that matcha tea was introduced to Japan by the Zen Monk Eisai, who built the first Zen temple in Japan.
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