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During a tea trip to Japan we spent some time studying the Japanese Tea Ceremony.  Learning about tea is definitely a lifelong pursuit and the Japanese Tea Ceremony is certainly no exception!  Some of the people we met had been studying for years and even decades.  

We learned quite a bit about matcha, the star of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but the thing that stood out the most was the phrase we kept hearing and seeing – Ichi-go ichi-e.

Ichi-go ichi-e roughly translates as ‘one chance, one encounter’.  This sentiment is central to the Japanese Tea Ceremony, meaning that every meeting is unique and even if you gather the same people together again, you’ll have a different experience.

We saw this concept present in the movements used to make the tea, and the wagashi (traditional Japanese sugary sweets) and ceramics chosen based on the guests and the season.  It was reflected in the focus presentation and aesthetic, as well as tea, as a way to honor your guests. 

Ichi-go ichi-e, treasure each moment.


Originally published: September 5, 2019. 

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  • Katherine Kern
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