While Tokyo bustles and heaves, surely there can be no lovelier refuge than the ceremony of tea (or sado) – one of Japan's most enduring and sacred practices dating as far back as the 9th century when Buddhist monks first mastered the method. Sadly, the capital offers precious few places where you can learn about it in English, but one spot in particular springs to mind…
For a traditional experience visit the Happo-En tea room nestled in a cosy wooden building with 120-year-old beams and originally built in Yokohama, until it was eventually moved to Tokyo.
While sat on straw tatami mats the kimono-enrobed tea host (teishu) will explain the significance of each step, from boiling the water to the way you hold your cup. The matcha green tea is served with two sweets to counteract its bitterness – a kashi pink sugar maple leaf and a wagashi cake filled with azuki paste.
Post-cuppa, enjoy a stroll through their gardens boasting 380-year-old bonsais, vibrant Japanese maples and glass-like koi ponds. However, if you don’t have a whole day to luxuriate in the ritual of tea there’s a simple and cheerful little place called Kyotokan which offers neat tutorials and the usual seasonal sweets in one short session. Just one’s cup of tea!