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2010年6月 7日 (月)


(Mainichi Japan) June 7, 2010
Cooking school relaxes rigid tea ceremony rules to welcome disabled


 ◇正座不要、着物にも工夫 土間に畳張りの箱置いて、体験生かし考案--東京・世田谷の茶懐石料理教室「一宮庵」

I had a wonderful time, enjoying tea while wearing a kimono for the first time in a while," said Atsuko Ikegami, 36. "I hope this gets me back into practicing the tea ceremony again."

In mid-May, Ikegami participated in a tea ceremony at Ikkuan, a cooking school specializing in cha-kaiseki -- simple meals that are served at tea ceremonies. For Ikegami, who has been wearing prosthetics after losing both her legs in a traffic accident when she was 22 years old, it had been 16 years since she last took part in a tea ceremony. This time, she brought along her friend, Shiho Sato, also 36, who is paralyzed on the right side of her body due to illness.


The two women were taken inside the tearoom in their wheelchairs. A box about 40 to 50 centimeters tall with a tatami mat surface sits beside them. Because the tea is served on this tatami surface, the two visitors can reach and enjoy their tea without any problems.

I'd thought that I'd never be able to wear a kimono or enjoy a tea ceremony after I became confined to a wheelchair, so it's like a dream to be here," said Ikegami. Sato, who had never taken part in a tea ceremony before said she felt out of place at first, but eventually felt calmed by the austerity of the ceremony. "I'd like to come again if I have the chance," she said.

Soko Saito (whose real name is Noriko Saito), 68, who presides over Ikkuan, held the tea ceremony with her daughter-in-law, Fumie 49. The idea of enjoying tea ceremonies in chairs or wheelchairs -- without having to sit on the floor -- occurred to Soko about 30 years ago. "I wanted to create a style that would allow me to continue the tea ceremony even if my body were to give out," she said.

Since then, Soko has been holding tea parties for the elderly and others who cannot sit with their legs tucked underneath them, as well as young people who are unaccustomed to sitting on the floor. Soko's mother, who passed away 17 years ago, was unable to sit on her knees later in life due to osteoporosis, and enjoyed tea ceremonies from chairs. Since April this year, Soko has opened the doors of her school to those with handicaps.

Soko has made adjustments to clothing, also, to make tea ceremonies go more smoothly. She has reworked the standard kimono, a must-wear in tea ceremonies, to fit those who might have trouble wearing them by separating each long kimono robe into two parts. The result is a kimono top and a skirt that are fastened together with an obi belt. They can be worn over T-shirts and jeans, and are available for rental.

"Even if wearing kimono and sitting with legs tucked underneath becomes problematic, anyone can participate in the tea ceremony this way," Soko said. "My hope is to contribute to making people's lives rich and enjoyable for a long time."


毎日新聞 2010年6月5日 東京朝刊


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