「 What is in it for me?」
The lighter side of what we do is easily summarised by the name of a certain K-On band. No, we are not a band, but we can assure you that tea and sweets are synonymous with what we do.
You will get to pick up Japanese tea ceremony etiquette, as well as gradually learn how to perform a tea ceremony starting from the basic Obon (tray) ceremony. If you are heading the right way, you may well start to see and appreciate the subtle things in life.
「 Is there a need to purchase my own tea ceremony utensils?」
No, there is no need for you to. Tea ceremony utensils are generally expensive. Official Enshu school items are even more so, owing partly to its nature as a samurai class of tea ceremony, as well as its relative rarity as compared to other tea schools. As an NUS Sado Club member, it is a privilege to be able to come down for practice with official Enshu school items and utensils and not to have to worry about spending a lot of money to start practicing. Of course though, you may also make a request to purchase your own personal okeiko items (sensu, fukusa, apron etc) with our sensei/s if you so desire. Do note that our okeiko items differ from other tea schools as well.
「 Do I have to pay to join the club?」
A formal membership in a tea school or under the tutelage of a sensei will probably cost hundreds and potentially thousands (of dollars) a year just to practice (not kidding, you can look it up for just about any tea ceremony school out there), BUT the good news is that practicing with us is next to free. What you will need to pay is $15 per academic semester ($12 for JSS members or club alumni, $20 for students from other schools), and even then this money goes into purchasing tea and sweets for you to enjoy every time you come for practice! We also do not collect this fee on new NUS members except upon your third visit, as we want to ensure that Sado is indeed your bowl of tea before you put down your money. Of course though, those who wish to confirm their membership on the spot by making payment during the welcome teas are also free to do so. How is that for a deal?
「 Do I need any background in practicing/performing tea ceremony to join?」
There is no requirement for you to have any prior knowledge. In fact, unless your background is in the Enshu style of tea ceremony, it may be better for you not to have prior knowledge since each tea school does things differently, although the fundamental goals may be the same. It is harder to unlearn and relearn in this case rather than starting from scratch.
「 Do I need to wear a Kimono/Yukata to practice?」
This is only required if you are performing or serving tea for an event. Neither is there a need to own one, since the club does have some for members to use in such occasions. For our practice sessions, we have special purpose-built aprons. That said, you will still get the opportunity to practice wearing a yukata.
「 Is a lot of commitment and time needed for practice?」
Frankly speaking, Sado will require lots of memory work, and it is essential to gradually build upon what you already know a little at a time and revise consistently so as to not forget all the steps for a certain kind of ceremony. What you will need to commit in terms of time is not a lot and an hour or so a week for those pressed for time will in fact suffice, but you would need to be consistent in coming for practice. Even seniors who have not practiced for some length of time will forget bits and pieces here and there.
「 Whom do we learn from?」
As per any tea school, beginners will start to learn the basic steps from seniors. As you progress, you will also have the opportunity to learn from our sensei/s who come down from Japan thrice a year, as well as from our grandmaster himself who comes down to NUS every August. We also do have a sensei who is currently stationed in Singapore who may come down to teach us. Some of our alumni who have attained the teaching certification are also active during our alumni practice sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.
「 Where do I head to from here?」
You have the option to take things further by obtaining an official certificate from the Enshu school after reaching a certain level of proficiency. This will cost money, as per any tea school out there, but it signifies that you are licensed to practice tea ceremony under the Enshu school, as well as a mark of your proficiency of certain tea ceremony styles. In fact, we currently have a few alumni members who have even obtained the teaching certification.
「 What about when I graduate from NUS?」
Do join our alumni practice on weekends approximately twice a month, or even our normal practice days if you can. The alumni practice was set up a few years back with the goal of allowing alumni members the opportunity to continue practicing on weekends so as not to lose their tea ceremony skills. NUS Sado Club Alumni members will enjoy a discounted membership rate of $12 as a token of appreciation for past contributions to the club.
Going even further, you may also choose to go over to Japan to pursue Enshu Sado by learning under one of the Enshu school branches or a qualified Enshu school instructor.
「 I am really interested! So how do I join?」
During the start of the new academic year in August, look out for the Japanese Studies Society’s welcome tea as well as our Student Life Fair booth where we will be on site to answer your queries. We will also be having our own welcome tea on selected subsequent weekday practice sessions. Alternatively, you may also drop us an email indicating your interest, or simply drop by during one of our practice days. As mentioned above, we would like you to experience sado for yourself before committing. Those who have just heard of us at the end of the semester are also welcome.
「 Have questions beyond this FAQs list? Email us, and we will be glad to attend to you ^^ 」