Takako Wakita
Caitlin Fitch

“Many visitors are surprised to find this different kind of experience here at the garden,” said Thomas Craveiro, a trustee at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “This is a typical Japanese tea garden designed with California native plants.” The best way to experience the ShinKanAn Teahouse is during one of the tea ceremonies, which are held every second Saturday of the month. Taught for the past 10 years by Sokyo Kasai, who instructs from the Urasenke tea ceremony tradition, the classes are open to the public and inform both casual visitors and more serious students like Craveiro about the rules, history, and meditative processes of this Japanese tradition. The ceremony always begins with a homemade sweet, which prepares the palate for the bitter, foamy matcha green tea that was prepared last Saturday by Takako Wakita (above), a student of Kasai’s for the past six years. “The tea room is a very special space,” explained Kasai. “We don’t chat about everyday things. Conversation is only about the meeting and appreciating the space we’re in now.” 


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