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Experience a little Traditional Japanese Culture through Food

Japan has four distinct seasons which feature prominently in all aspects of Japanese life. You don’t need to look far to be reminded of which season it is. To the untrained alien eye, the traditional Tea Ceremony may appear the same whenever it is practiced, but if you look closely you will find that the bowls, the flowers and the decor in the room all change with the season.

This trend is also very obvious in the food we eat. At a formal tea ceremony you are given a special bento (a meal prepared and packaged in a box) called Tenshin, to eat before drinking, in order to fully appreciate the taste of the tea. The Tenshin bento is comprised of many small portions of different foods, prepared with fresh ingredients specific to the season and occasion, each carefully prepared and beautifully arranged.

When I visited the small Japanese Tea Cafe, Suiki, at New Year’s I was treated to a special New Year Tenshin lunch followed by some Matcha. The proprietor of the cafe is a qualified Sencha (green tea) instructor whose wish is to serve good quality Japanese tea.

tenshin bento lunch

This special Tenshin bento included seasonal black beans. These beans are considered auspicious and are always served in the traditional New Year meal known as Osechi ryori. One of the dishes on my plate was created using the hollowed out skin of a yuzu (a species of aromatic Asiatic citron harvested in winter)! It was topped with a prawn which is another ingredient traditionally included in New Year dishes. The combination of white and red is also considered auspicious and served at celebrations.

yuzu and shrimp

Matcha (green tea made using green tea powder) and a Japanese sweet were served after the meal just as in the Tea Ceremony!

Matcha

Perhaps this celebration of the seasons is so ingrained in Japanese culture because Japan’s seasons are so clearly defined. Each season brings its own peculiar flora, fruit and vegetables which we love to celebrate.

Having lunch in Suiki is to experience Japanese culture so I’d recommend it to any visitor to Saga!

Information

Japanese Tea Cafe Suiki (日本茶カフェすいき)
Address: 3-2-78 Tafuse, Saga City
Telephone: 0952-24-5875
Opening Hours: 12:00~18:00 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Sunday opening can also be arranged)
Regular Holidays: Sunday-Wednesday
Access 1: 5 min drive from Saga station
Distance to airport: 12 km from Saga Airport
Menu Language: Japanese

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