During the first Sunday of October, the Uji tea festival is held to enshrine the souls of the three great tea masters that ushered in and developed the tea industry of Uji. Those remembered are Zen Master Eisai, who brought the first tea seeds to Japan, Priest Myoe that planted the seeds in Uji, and Rikyu Sen who pursued the art of the tea ceremony.
The festival happens at the Kosho-ji temple and the follows a traditional ceremony.
The beginning is called “drawing of the water”. The tea is prepared carefully by obtaining water from the Uji river. Second, a chosen disciple brings the tea jar, a pot is purified with a feather duster, and the seal is severed. The disciple empties the weaker tea and fills it with the first harvest tea leaves. The tea leaves are then stone ground in a mortar. The tea leaves are now matcha and the matcha is carefully placed in the tea jar and is ready to present to the minister.
The disciple then carries the matcha, that was made with the Uji river water, carefully to the minister, who then accepts the tea and carefully brews the tea. The tea is then brought to the chief and placed by the Buddha.
Finally, a prayer of thankfulness is said for the used tea whisks and a wish made that the Uji tea will prosper.
This festival will be held this Sunday, October 7th.
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