Usually, students of the tea ceremony master the temae by practicing regularly and repeatedly. But So'oku says he hardly ever received special training as a child. "When I was young, I would accompany my father to tea events and just stick around, and sometimes, after everyone's lesson has ended, I would drink tea that the people at the mizuya prepared for me. Maybe I was after the sweets."
So'oku's parents gave greater priority to his school education than to tea. "Chado is recreation for grown-ups, so my parents preferred that I become familiar with the world of tea after I had grown into a sensible adult. So even when a tea event was being held at home, my parents would tell me to go to school. If anything, I think it was me being curious and wanting to attend tea ceremonies."
Nowadays, So'oku has many opportunities to appear publicly with his father. He says he is growing more conscious of his position as a future tea master.
"My father tells me that to grow up in a chado family is greater training than any form of training. He would also say, 'I'll give you the opportunity, so you learn with your own eyes.' I didn't realize when I was a child, but now I understand what he means - that if you just do what others have taught you, you won't be able to teach other people."
So'oku says that by following an agreed pattern in chado, the participants can sympathize with one another.
"You can have a tea ceremony to let children eat their favorite sweets, for instance, and even if much older adults are invited as well, everyone can share the same topic of conversation. I've heard of families whose members have come to talk more with each other since the children began taking lessons in tea.
"The temae, in which one person prepares tea for another person in front of the other, is a very real form of hospitality, and I think of it as a kind of body language. You can also have fun by selecting various vessels from around the world for their size and beauty and using them in place of the usual tea utensils. The tea ceremony can transcend differences in age, gender, ethnicity, and even language, so I think it has potential for international exchange."