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  • Writer's pictureOlivier

Japan: The Meimei-an Tea House in Matsue

Updated: Mar 8

Located at the top of a small hill in the city of Matsue (Shimane Prefecture), this tea house is a gem not to be missed on your journey through the San-in region. A true haven of peace, it also features a remarkable contemplative garden that you can admire from the inside while enjoying a Matcha tea seated on traditional tatami mats.

Japan: The Meimei-an Teahouse in Matsue

© O. Robert

As in many places in Shimane Prefecture, as a foreigner you will benefit from a 50% discount on the entrance fee. You can, of course, visit the tea house's garden at your leisure. Tripods are welcome, a rarity worth noting. The owners are very friendly and open to foreigners.

History of the Meimei-an Tea House

The Meimei-an Tea House, located in the charming city of Matsue in Japan, is a jewel of traditional Japanese art and an iconic place in the culture of the tea ceremony. Also known as the "Clear Lotus Salon," it embodies the elegance and serenity that have characterized Japanese culture for centuries.

Meimei-an Tea House has a rich history dating back several centuries. It was built during the Edo period in the 17th century by a renowned tea master of the time, named Kanamori Sōwa. Sōwa was a devoted follower of the tea ceremony and an avid collector of items related to this art. He decided to build Meimei-an as a place where he could practice and teach the tea ceremony while showcasing his precious collection.

Le livre du Thé - Okakura Kakuzo

The Book of Tea - Okakura Kakuzo

The Architecture of Meimei-an

The tea house itself is an example of traditional Japanese architecture. It is constructed out of wood and bamboo, with tatami mats for seating. The interior is adorned with traditional art objects, calligraphy, and crafted works.

The Tradition of the Tea Ceremony at Meimei-an

The tea ceremony is a deeply rooted Japanese tradition, and Meimei-an continues this tradition with great respect. Visitors to Meimei-an have the opportunity to participate in an authentic experience of the tea ceremony, led by qualified tea masters.

The Cha-no-yu

The tea ceremony, also known as Cha-no-yu, is a highly ritualized ceremony that focuses on simplicity, grace, and meditation. Participants are invited to enter Meimei-an with an open and respectful mind, ready to savor each aspect of the ceremony.

Japan: The Meimei-an Tea House in Matsue

© O. Robert

The Preparation of the Tea

The tea masters at Meimei-an prepare the tea with great precision. Every gesture, from heating the water to preparing the matcha, is carried out with meticulous attention to detail.

Participants in the tea ceremony have the chance to taste matcha, as well as traditional Japanese pastries. The matcha is served in small ceramic cups, and its tasting is a moment for contemplation and enjoyment.

What sets Meimei-an apart is its peaceful and meditative ambiance. Visitors are encouraged to relax, disconnect from the outside world, and immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquility of this space.

Japan: The Meimei-an Teahouse in Matsue

© O. Robert

I remember having a long conversation with the manager, who was intrigued by what I could possibly be photographing in her garden. This is a must-visit during your stay in the San-in region to experience a moment of Japanese tradition.

Japan: The Meimei-an Teahouse in Matsue

© O. Robert

The Meimei-an Tea House in Matsue is a true treasure of Japanese culture, where history, tradition, and beauty come together to offer visitors an unforgettable experience of the tea ceremony. It's a place where one can feel the serenity of ancient Japan while discovering the richness of its culture.

The tea house is located 500 meters from Matsue Castle. Although it's not easy to find, here is its address: 278 Kitahoricho, Matsue.

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Getting to the San-in Region

If you're starting from Tokyo, you can take a direct flight to the most important cities in this region, such as Tottori or Matsue. Otherwise, you'll have to take the train as no other national airports serve these cities.

The easiest way is to go to Tottori by the "Super Hakuto Express" train from Kyoto or Osaka. The journey takes about 3 hours from Kyoto on a comfortable train equipped with free Wi-Fi.

From Tottori, you'll then need to travel down the coast where numerous photographic spots await you. You'll also need to rent a vehicle; it's not possible to visit the region any other way. The distances are long, and public transportation doesn't serve the photographic spots.

The city of Matsue is 120 km (approximately 2 hours by car) away from the city of Tottori.

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