I attended my first tea ceremony decades ago, as part of a company orientation. Kneeling on the floor, I sat in the formal seiza position, stumbled through the motions and sipped the thick green tea. Just as the pain in my legs was reaching a crescendo, I bowed to my host and hobbled out. I had next to no idea what it all meant. A box ticked off in the Japanese cultural experiences list?
Based on a collection of essays by Noriko Morishita, Tatsushi Omori's "Every Day a Good Day" knowledgeably and gorgeously shows how tea ceremony is far more than a feudal-era relic trotted out for bemused observers. For the heroine and her fellow followers of sadō (the way of tea), it is a shining embodiment of mindfulness — the philosophy and practice of living in the moment that is both timeless and trendy. Also, instead of going through the prescribed motions by rote, they use all five senses to experience beauty to the fullest at every seasonal turn. And the matcha that is the end product of their labors looks delicious. (Though as a fan of matcha in just about anything, I may be prejudiced.)
Known for his violent disruptions of conventions both social and cinematic, beginning with his 2005 debut "The Whispering of the Gods," Omori would seem to be out of his element in this decidedly nonviolent story. But he and his staff have created a Japan-esque paradise, where the distractions of the outside world, if not always its tragedies, are subsumed into a regime of beauty, order and, as paradoxical as it may sound, freedom.