Loose Park tea room and garden showcase Japanese culture
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Part of Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri provides a significant educational opportunity ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics: the Japanese tea room and garden.
Paula Winchester is at home, and at work, in the tea room.
“It’s a very ritualized process where you serve a specific type of tea called matcha, which is pure powdered tea leaves, to your guests,” Winchester said.
She spent 15 years learning from a tea master. Today herself tea mistress, her work is deployed in the small space.
“It’s not a British afternoon tea at all, you are really focused. You guests are really focusing on what the host is doing with their hands,” Winchester said.
It’s a complex process, with a calming end result accompanied by Japanese teachings.
“You’re only here today. It can never be done again. I think it’s being in the moment and seeing the light change in space,” Winchester said, referring to the light spreading from the Japanese garden, just outside.
The garden is part of the Sister City program, which brings together Kansas City, Missouri, and Kurashiki, Japan, to share cultures and promote cultural understanding. It is an important place for those who find it.
“A woman that would come because she had cancer, she would sit on that rock and she told me that was her place to meditate and connect with nature and heal herself, really,” Judy said. Penner of Kansas City Parks and Recreation. .
Although thousands of miles from the Olympic host, Kansas City offers an immersive experience.
“You walk in and you start to feel peaceful. It’s just the placement of everything and the way it’s been laid out, it just gives you a serenity that you can only get in a Japanese garden,” said Penner.
The tea room and garden are 15 years old, with limited space for just four people.
The tea room is currently closed for COVID-19 protocols, but organizers hope to reopen soon. The garden remains open to the public.