Kimono Tea Ceremony Kyoto MAIKOYA

Kimono Tea ceremony Kyoto Best Activities and tours in Japan

Best Activities and Tours in Japan - Chosen by Travelers Reviews

Traditional Tea Ceremony Experience KYOTO MAIKOYA

tea ceremony kyoto

KYOTO MAIKOYA offers traditional tea ceremony in the historic Gion district and the Kyoto station area 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 7 PM every hour in downtown Kyoto, the geisha tea ceremony is only held once a day in Gion. KYOTO MAIKOYA is the only tea ceremony venue that received Tripadvisor's Best Travelers' Choice Award both in 2018 and 2019.

  • private tea ceremony kyoto
  • private tea ceremony kyoto
  • private tea ceremony kyoto

KYOTO MAIKOYA Gion Shijo Location Map

We offer four traditional types of tea ceremony in Kyoto:

Currently, all sessions are private for COVID-19 measures.

Kimono + Tea Ceremony

Kimono + Tea Ceremony

(Approx. 60min - 90min)

  1. Wear traditional Japanese kimono.
  2. Authentic tea ceremony led by a host who speaks English.
  3. Drinking Japanese green tea and eating Japanese sweets.
  4. Take many photos at Maikoya or the nearby temple.
Private Tea Ceremony kyoto

Kimono + PRIVATE Tea Ceremony

(Approx. 60min - 90min)

  1. There will be no one else except you in the tea ceremony session. Ideal for families with small children or those who are looking for a very special experience.
  2. Wear traditional Japanese kimono.
  3. Traditional tea ceremony led by a host who speaks English.
  4. Drinking Japanese green tea and eating Japanese sweets.
  5. Take many photos at Maikoya or the nearby temple.
Geisha Tea Ceremony Kyoto

Geisha Tea Ceremony Kyoto

(Approx. 60 mins.)

  1. You join a traditional tea ceremony session led by an apprentice geisha called maiko. Maikoya is the only venue in Japan that conveniently provides such kind of service!!
  2. Drinking Japanese green tea and eating Japanese sweets in an authentic tea ceremony room.
  3. Have a conversation with the apprentice geisha (maiko) with the presence of an interpreter.
  4. Take many photos at Maikoya with the apprentice geisha.
Casual clothes Tea ceremony

Casual clothes Tea Ceremony

(Approx. 40mins.)

  1. You partake in the group tea ceremony session without wearing kimono.
  2. Traditional tea ceremony led by a host who speaks English.
  3. Drinking Japanese green tea and eating Japanese sweets.
  4. Take many photos at Maikoya or the nearby temple

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?

famous temple in 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?

Kyoto Gion district
  • 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

Kyoto sightseeing and guide map
  • 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.
Proud Member of Kyoto City Tourism Association

Japanese Tea Ceremony

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?

For the Japanese, it is the embodiment of main aspects of both Buddhism (harmony, transience) and Shintoism (ritualistic purification). Japanese also consider tea ceremony as a form of “art.” For foreigners, it is a full cultural experience package as it involves drinking a local beverage (matcha), eating local sweets (wagashi), performing a local ritual (te aceremony), interacting with a local (tea host), wearing local clothes (kimono), observing the traditional architecture (chashitsu), using traditional utensils and observing flower arrangements and scriptures all at once.

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.

Definition:

The Japanese tea ceremony where ceremonial tea is prepared and presented to promote wellbeing, mindfulness and harmony. It is also called the Way of the Tea. The tea itself is a powdered green tea and is called matcha.

History:

The Japanese tea ceremony has many names in Japanese: Chanoyu, sado or ocha. It has a long history of a thousand years and has ties to the tea traders in China. Japanese monks first brought back tea leaves during the Chinese Tang dynasty (618 AD| 907 AD) and only used them in their temples for religious services. A priest called Myona Eisai spread the belief that green tea could be used for medicine and by drinking it regularly you were ensured good health. Samurai in particular followed this practice and spread its popularity. Later, another priest called Murata Shukou, called the father of the tea ceremony, added more significance and rituals by making powdered tea so others could enjoy it. His focus on aesthetics became well known and heavily influences the tea ceremony that we know today.

Tea Ceremony Vocabulary:

Chasen: Tea whisk made from the single piece of bamboo Chashaku: Tea scoop made from bamboo or ivory Chawan: Decorated tea bowl. See Fun Facts for more information. Hishaku: Ladle used to pour water made out of bamboo Kaiseki: Delicate meal sometimes eaten during a tea ceremony Kama: Iron pot used for hot water Matcha: Bitter green tea prepared in a powered form Natsume: The decorated tea jar that the green tea comes in Shokyaku: The main guest or guest of honour at the tea ceremony Tatami: The type of mat found in a tea house Teishu: The host of the tea ceremony

The Process of the Japanese Tea Ceremony:

There are different types of tea ceremonies as there are rituals needed for the different seasons. This is the simpler shozumi ceremony steps below, which includes a kaiseki meal. Preparation is taken seriously before the tea ceremony can begin. Traditionally, the tea house and surrounded gardens would be cleaned and tidied. Invitations to guests should be sent weeks in advance. The tea room itself needs special attention. There are no chairs and tables as you are required to sit on the woven tatami floor. Traditionally the doors are also made of paper and cleaning requires that both the mats and doors be replaced. In a full tea ceremony, special guests would be consulted beforehand on what type of tea and food should be served.

The day beforehand is when the kaiseki meal is prepared. This is a traditional Japanese meal that consists of many small dishes of delicacies that typically consist of rice, vegetables and soup. These are well known for their high grade ingredients, careful preparation and presentation. Japanese sweets are usually prepared as well to contrast the bitter taste of the tea. More modern or simpler foods are prepared if newcomers are going to be present at the tea ceremony. The hot water is prepared just before the ceremony begins and is placed in the kama or iron pot.

The first step of the ceremony is the welcoming to the tea room. The host or teishu would open the paper door and would already have all the utensils placed on the tatami mats ready to begin (or would be brought in shortly after). Certain movements are very important to perform as a practiced host, such as standing in one smooth motion and bowing often during the ceremony. Once everyone is seated, the kaiseki meal is presented to the guests and eaten.

The sweets would be ritually presented to the main guest once the meal is finished. In a full service, a guest's social ranking would give them special rituals to perform during the ceremony. The main guest or shokyaku would get to accept the sweets. As the tea is about to be prepared, the main guest usually asks the host where the utensils were made and who made them.

As the tea is being prepared, this step is now the beginning of the ceremonial steps of the occasion. Traditionally this is all performed in silence. Firstly the tea bowl or chawan is picked up and put down with the tea whisk inside the bowl. Next the tea jar or natsume is moved in front of the host. A silk cloth is now folded and is wiped on the tea jar, before the jar is placed in front of the cold water. While the host is still holding the silk cloth, the chashaku or tea scoop is now picked up and cleaned. The tea scoop is then put on top of the tea jar.

Now the tea whisk or chasen is put next to the tea jar. A ladle or hishaku is held while the lid of the iron pot of warm water is opened. The ladle is used to take a scoop of hot water and pour it into the tea bowl. The ladle is then put on the iron pot while the host gently cleans the tea bowl and tea whisk using the warm water. This water is then discarded into a waste water bowl. The tea bowl is then cleaned with a hemp cloth.

The tea scoop and tea jar are then picked up. Usually one and half scoops of tea or macha are placed into the tea bowl. The ladle is then picked up again and a full cup of hot water from the kama is poured slowly into the tea bowl. Any leftover hot water is put back into the iron pot. A sign of a talented host is if the tea is made correctly as it takes years to know how much macha and hot water is needed. The tea whisk and tea bowl are now picked up as the host quickly whisks the tea powder. A pale green foam is formed and should settle to the centre of the bowl.

Now the tea is served to the guests. The host cleans the lip of the bowl once last time and presents it to the main guest. The shokyaku walks forward and drinks the tea first. They are the only guest allowed to make comments about the quality of the tea made. After they have finished, hot water is added and the bowl is cleaned. The host will then make the tea again in a similar fashion until all the guests have had a drink.

After everyone has finished, the shokyaku asks if everyone has completed their tea. The host cleans each utensil separately. The discarded water bowl is hidden as much as possible during this step. Fresh water is added to a kama equal to the amount of hot water taken during the ceremony. Most of the utensils and tea items are then carried away to the preparation area of the tea house. Finally the host will kneel next to the door and thank the guests for coming to the tea ceremony.

Fun Facts about the Tea Ceremony:

While great preparation is given to the tea utensils, the tea house itself is designed to embody harmony and mindfulness. Careful organisation of the artwork, flower arranging and even the interior decorating are all required in a proper tea house. In a full tea service, the guest should be prepared to bring traditional items with them to the ceremony. These include a small fork to cut the sweets provided, a fan, a traditional paper napkin and a small decorated cloth. This cloth is important for the shokyaku as the way he or she places this cloth on the ground signals whether the tea given to them was satisfactory or not.

Traditional tea houses have artwork, flowers, pottery and aesthetics that change with the seasons, time of day or a particular holiday. The ceremonies done in these tea houses have a theme and this theme is shared with the guests through the calligraphy paintings and artworks on the walls. The main scroll is the main important decoration as they could be painted by Buddhist monks, professional Shodo calligraphers or tea masters. This should also be displayed through the fresh flowers and decorations inside and outside the tea house.

The reason why there are no chairs in a tea house is because the floor is a tatami floor. This floor is made from reeds, straw or rush grass and were seen as a luxury in ancient Japan. Traditional houses have tatami floors and only certain shoes should walk on its surface. The way the tatami floor is laid is important as it might bring good or bad luck into the house.

The Japanese Tea Ceremony used to be a 'men only' event. Up until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868 AD), women were not allowed to attend the tea ceremony. During this time only rich nobles such as warlords, samurai and monks could afford to drink the matcha tea.

Older tea houses have a 'half height' door. This has ties to the samurai era when the warriors had to take off their weapons and armour before entering the tea house. This was to promote equality between the guests and the belief that 'all people are equal in the way of the tea'.

Something that isn't equal is the utensils used. There is a ceremonial 'hierarchy of utensils' and is influenced with how expensive and important the item is. This influences how the host carries the utensil, what order they are brought in and out of the tea room and at what height they are carried. The tea bowl and tea container are the most treasured utensil, and are brought in first and carried carefully. The waste water bowl is the last utensil to be carried in and is only held at waist height.

There are a range of tea bowls that you can choose from if you do host a tea ceremony. There are summer bowls which are shallow to cool the tea, or winter bowls that are deeper. Different tea bowl creators like to use a certain material, thickness or colour when they make their wares. The more expensive bowls are made by hand and any imperfections are prized and put on display during the ceremony.

Due to novels and movies such as Memoirs of a Geisha, the Japanese tea ceremony has become linked with the grace and sophistication of the geisha. Tourist destinations in Kyoto are known for offering tea ceremonies with a geisha host. During the spring, geishas can be seen preparing sweets or meals for the tea ceremony. Some tea houses let you keep the plate offered to you as a souvenir.

Classes and clubs to learn and perfect the art of the tea ceremony are important if you wish to become a proper lady in Japan. There is even a certification process that celebrates the different levels of mastery of the tea ceremony. This is very important if you attend a special tea school, such as the famous Ura, Omote or Mushanokoji schools.

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