Alan Sorensen Havre Daily News email@example.com
A lesson in Far East culture was visited on Havre Middle School s tudent s Thursday through an elaborate and precise 4 5 -minu t e t e a c e remony. Thundering applause was the first audible indication that seventh- graders were even in the room watching the ceremony. From the moment Principal Vance Blatter introduced Kizuku Matsunaga of the Kumamoto Plaza in Helena to the moment s e v e n t h - g r a d e r Ma r l e e Kirchgasler turned her tea cup counterclockwise the appropriate number of times and added a final 180 degree turn to place the cup’s imprint away from her to conclude the ceremony, the transfixed students were mute, making little if any noise even when they moved to get a better view of the participants seated on the floor. Kizuku told the students that the ritualistic ceremony exemplifies quiet, tranquility and simplicity. After heating the water and setting up all the cups and utensils required for the task, his wife, Yoriko, scooped water into the cup, swirled the water around in the cup, emptied the water into a nearby wooden bucket and wiped the cup and its brim dry. She then scooped up tea twice with a narrow strip of what appeared to be bamboo bent slightly at one end and put those scoops into the cup, then poured in a little water into the cup to make a thick tea called usucha. She then stirred the tea slowly with a chasen, wooden whisk shaped much like a shaving cream brush, to make a fine frothy tea. When the tea was ready, she handed it to her husband, who rotated the cup about three times, stopped, then rotated the cup another 180 degrees to have the front of the cup facing away from him. He then took three large gulps, ending with a slurpIng gulp that emptied the cup in the traditional way. The ritual was repeated two more times with seventh-graders Anna Ross and Kirchgasler each taking a turn, after eating Japanese cookies. At the end of the demonstration, Kizuku Matsunaga passed cookies and candy to the rest of Wayne Bolken’s geography class. Kizuku Matsunaga, manager of Kumamoto Plaza in Helena, and his family followed up the tea ceremony with a PowerPoint presentation on Kumamoto to a b o u t 9 0 s t u d e n t s. Th e Matsunagas spent about two hours at HMS Thursday morning before addressing the Havre Rotary Club at noon and then heading south to Fort Benton. The stops were the culmination of a tour the Matsunagas made of eastern and north-central Montana. The Matsunagas and their children, Megumi, 6, and Takeshi, 3, have 18 months left in their two-year assignment promoting friendly ties between the people of the Prefecture of Kumamoto, Montana’s sister state in Japan in for 25 years, and the various towns, cities and rural areas of the Montana.