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In Japanese, the sayings “ichi-go ichi-e no deai” means “once in a lifetime meeting,” while "ichi-go ichi-e no en" means "once in a lifetime fate, chance or destiny."

The phrase “ichi-go ichi-e” is the basic conceptual foundation of “sado,” which refers to the famous Japanese tea ceremony.

This implies that meeting a guest for the first time at a tea ceremony only happens once and that you should entertain your guest with all your heart.

The tea ceremony does not merely consist of the etiquette that applies to the traditional tea party. What is also vitally important is the “heart of hospitality” (omotenashi) which is a key tenet of Japanese culture.

The host of the tea ceremony conducts several preparations before receiving his or her guest at the tea ceremony.

Firstly, they prepare the tea utensils. These tea utensils consist of more than 10 different items.

The choice of bowls and trays for confectionery used in the tea ceremony is not about luxury, ostentation or splendor. Instead, they are simple vessels. This simplicity expresses the beauty of the objects as they are. They are works of art in themselves.

The tearoom is clean and tidy. The lighting and humidity in the room is carefully attended to. Seasonal flowers are sensitively arranged and a hanging scroll (usually a painting or Japanese calligraphy) is selected according to the theme of the tea ceremony.

The host makes their best efforts to help the guest relax and forget about daily affairs or anxieties, so that they can simply enjoy a single cup of tea.

The tearoom is a small room and is a space designed to facilitate “ichi-go ichi-e.” It is specifically customized to create the right ambience to enjoy the moment.

Sometimes when people meet, it is their first and last meeting. They may never see each other ever again. In this situation, they might not care too much about what happens during their meeting.

However, the spirit of the Japanese tea ceremony means that you care more about the meeting and the moment because it only happens once. The time spent with the person is ephemeral and will never recur, so you must cherish the moment.

It is an important Japanese value to cherish “en” – fate or chance. The Japanese believe that “en” is beyond human beings' power. It is due to a power beyond us, which somehow connects people to people.

Through the tea ceremony, the host appreciates the opportunity to meet their guest. So they pour their sincerity into the way they serve a single cup of tea during the tea ceremony.  

The “sado,” (tea ceremony) was fully developed by the 16th century. Since then, the process of the “sado” has remained unchanged. The spirit of the tea ceremony has survived through to modern times.

The spirit of entertaining a guest is seen as a virtue in Japanese culture. It is still a highly regarded idea in modern life.

We all live the spirit of “ichi-go ichi-e” in our lives - with people, objects, nature and moments, all of which are ultimately fleeting and transitory.

Give each ephemeral yet beautiful meeting the value it deserves by choosing hand crafted products from wabizest for your next coffee or tea moment.

Explore our collection of mugs and bowls