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Margie Yap: Japanese Tea Ceremony Teacher and Expert

Margie Yap is a peaceful and dedicated woman with an incredible passion. 

She’s studied the art of Japanese tea ceremonies for over 35 years. 

“It’s basic premise is hospitality,” Yap explained. “But, because it’s developed over 400 years, it encompasses all the high arches of Japan. So, things like flower arranging, calligraphy, gardening, architecture, ceramics, woodworking, kimono dressing, as well as the standards of beauty and etiquette. They all come together in a tea ceremony.”

Yap will be hosting one of these tea ceremonies at Clark College over Zoom on Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. You can find the Zoom information in the graphic below.

Yap explained that tea ceremonies can have different meanings for each individual person. For some, it’s a spiritual practice, for others it’s like meditation. For Yap, it’s a lifestyle. 

“Some of the principles of the tea ceremony I’ve really incorporated into my everyday life,” Yap said. “For example, the four basic principles of tea ceremonies are harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. I try to manifest those principles.”

Yap explained that the practices of tea ceremonies are similar to the mindfulness movement in the U.S., with some of the spirituality deriving from Zen Buddhism.

Her passion started shortly after high school when she read an excerpt in the book Shōgun about a tea ceremony and became fascinated. Shortly after college, she sought out a teacher who showed her the ways of Japanese tea ceremonies. This led to her going to a teaching credentials program for a year in Japan, which she described as being similar to boot camp because of its rigorous schedule and expectations. 

She now owns and runs the Issoan Tea School in Portland where she teaches not only the practice but philosophy and skills that come with tea ceremonies to 15 students. This includes skills like calligraphy and meditation. Her classes attract people ranging in age from 16 to 60-years-old. 

Yap teaches from her tea room in her home that her husband built for her. The room is a small, peaceful place with incredible details hidden throughout it, with a scroll that says, “Every day is a good day” in Japanese on the wall. The floral designs throughout the room provide an elegant and peaceful feel to the space. 

Yap talks about her tea room and her practice with pride, it’s obvious how much tea ceremonies matter to her.

“For me, the tea ceremony is a way to unplug, to listen to that small voice inside and reflect about what I say, what I do, how I behave,” Yap explained.

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