Imamura Eisuke, whose mother is a cousin to So'oku, is in the fourth grade of elementary school. Eisuke has always loved Japanese sweets, and he has also been drinking matcha from an early age. He began learning the tea ceremony from his grandmother at the age of five, and he sometimes takes lessons from So'oku.
"Everyone else eats the sweets before drinking the tea, but I have the sweets after the tea," says Eisuke. "My favorite sweets are dorayaki (small pancakes sandwiched with bean jam) and manju (buns with bean-jam filling), and I think it's delicious when you eat them at the end."
Utensils are set on a tray for bon temae.
Pouring hot water into the tea bowl.
So'oku drinks the tea that Eisuke prepared.
On this day, under the instruction of So'oku, Eisuke practiced bon temae, a casual style of tea ceremony in which the utensils are set on a tray and usucha is prepared at the table.
"Add some more matcha."
Eisuke follows So'oku's instructions with a slightly tense look on his face. After drinking the tea that Eisuke prepared, So'oku comments, "It's a little bit weak, but it's been carefully prepared and tastes good." Eisuke makes tea for himself, too, and drinks it to the last drop.
Finally, Eisuke practices the procedure of rinsing the bowl and returning the utensils to their former position. After going through all the movements, Eisuke gives out a sigh of relief.
"I always practice like this, but I get very tense. I can't wait to eat the sweets!" And Eisuke breaks into a smile.
Eisuke proudly says, "I've been learning tea for a long time, so I'm used to sitting formally on my legs. I have no problems sitting in that position for at least forty-five minutes." He has practiced preparing usucha for some time now, so he says that now he wants to learn more difficult types of temae.
Eisuke tried having a tea ceremony with his school friends once, but they weren't used to sitting on their legs, so they couldn't stay concentrated for a long time. "Everyone tried hard, but it didn't work. Maybe I'll do it again when I've gotten older." The day will hopefully come when a grown-up Eisuke hosts fabulous tea ceremonies.