Tea Ceremony – Chaji


My friend, who has performed the Japanese tea ceremony – Urasenke style – for many years, invited me to a formal tea ceremony – Chaji – which he hosted. I also asked my British friend, Kelly, to come with me because she previously told me that she had never experienced it in Japan. She immediately answered that she would love to attend. I was very excited to join Chaji for the first time in five years and meet up with Kelly as well!

It was very nice that we four guests entered a tea garden following the stepping-stone path and then entered a tea house. Chaji started at noon. A meal was served, followed by little sweets, Koicha (a thick blend of matcha powder and hot water) and Usucha (thin tea). The whole process ended at around 14:30.

I loved the landscape of the Japanese garden, the simplicity of the tea room and utensils, and the company of the guests. I could not translate well some terms of the ceremony and the cultural backgrounds into English for Kelly, but it was a relief that she seemed to enjoy it very much!

After coming back home in the evening, I opened my drawers and found quite a few tea utensils that my mum gave me a long time ago and a handheld mirror that my dad bought for me. I found these things very emotional. I hope that I could use the tea set; I do not remember the tea ceremony etiquette very well but I still greatly appreciate the philosophy.

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Week 56: Lowest temperature in 48 years

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On Monday, we had the heaviest snow in Tokyo since 2014 and experienced serious traffic disruptions. I was visiting a research participant to explain my research. The meeting went well, I was able to receive a consent form from him, and we arranged for three-day data collection in February, which was perfect! After the meeting, the snow was getting heavier, and I was stuck at a train station for two hours. On Thursday, Tokyo recorded the lowest temperature in 48 years of minus 4 degrees Celsius. Throughout the week, it has been incredibly freezing everywhere in Japan!

I wanted to be active in Tokyo and did not want to waste time. This week, I visited four Shinto shrines in Tokyo and Kanagawa with my father to pray for good health, good luck and for the smooth process of my fieldwork in Japan. The four shrines are my favourites: Yushima Tenjin is the most famous shrine of scholars in Tokyo, Okunitama shrine is one of the five major shrines in Tokyo, Samukawa shrine is famous for removing bad fortune and preventing you from negative energies and Tsuruoka-Hachiman-gu is a very popular place in Kamakura. For me and many Japanese people, visiting shrines is an important ritual. I often feel that I miss praying at shrines when I am in England.


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Yushima Tenjin, a shrine of scholars

On Tuesday, I sent my short diary on my fieldwork to my supervisors. Since then we have talked to each other via emails and I constantly get advice from them.

On Thursday, my initial plan for collecting data on this day was postponed because I needed to wait to hear the result of my ethics application. I am telling myself ‘be patient, don’t rush, I still have time’…

One more piece of news. I got an extension to the submission deadline for an online journal. I couldn’t make it for the initial deadline and gave up attempting to submit my work. But I am lucky! I will start working on it and will try to complete my paper by the extended deadline.

Goals for Week 57:
– Have some meetings with my research participants and attempt to arrange schedules for data collection in February.
– Continue working on my paper and editing chapters.



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Japanese fortune-telling paper strip. ‘Great Blessing’


Week 55: Another ethics application

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Three weeks have passed since I returned to Tokyo to start my fieldwork. I have spent the weeks (and will spend the next few weeks) contacting and recruiting research participants, having face-to-face meetings with them, explaining the study and arranging dates for my observations and recording, and working on literature reviews as well.

This week, I found out that I need to get an ethics approval from an institutional ethics board to conduct my observations and focus groups in the institution. I filled in a form and submitted it to the committee.

I found that I need to take time to establish rapport with the participants and make sure of the ethical aspects before initiating data collection. I assume that the stage that I can actually start collecting data will be at the beginning of February, meaning that I will spend a month doing the preparation in the field. But it is much easier for me to do these processes here in Japan because I can have a meeting with people immediately and get advice from them easily, which has allowed me to be active and motivated!

I would like to a mention a scholar who is taking part in my research and has helped me greatly to collect data. He is a very busy person as a medical scholar, physician and a chief of two organisations, but he is always willing to have a meeting and share resources (people and research ideas) with me. I really cannot thank him enough for his support; without his help, I would be struggling with the fieldwork. This is a very important aspect; in field research, you need to find a person who has a strong network of local people, and you first need to focus on the one connection and build a relationship and expand the research sites.

Apart from the rapport-building process, all the preparation is done. I have got two reliable recorders, a camera, field notes, printed consent forms and comfortable walking shoes.

I talk to Luca every day. I have a disciplined life here (go to bed at 11 pm and wake up 8 am), but he seems to be struggling with living alone in England. Speaking of our relationship, this period is very important for us to concentrate on our own things and to be mentally independent.

Regarding living in Japan, I really enjoy cooking and eating many different foods. Also, I am very addicted to shopping for many cheap cosmetics at drugstores!

My achievements in Week 55:
– Found two participants and confirmed that they are willing to participate in my research.
– Submitted my ethics application to an institutional committee in Japan.
– Signed up for a gym and started daily exercise.

Goals for Week 56:
– Have some meetings with my research participants.
– Continue editing chapters.

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