The staff at Ippodo, a centuries-old tea merchant in Kyoto, may not go in for the rigidity of tradition, but they take their tea very seriously. To them, enjoying a quotidian cup of tea in the company of friends is more pleasurable than following the rites and rigors of a traditional ceremony. This shop and tearoom on Teramachi Street is in a beautiful machiya (townhouse) that dates back to the 1860s. The entrance is dominated by copper colored tea urns, and the aroma of different kinds of loose green tea — matcha, sencha, hōjicha — fills the air. In the tearoom, you can sample nearly a dozen varieties, and there’s not a tatami mat in sight. One thing you should notice, however, is a timer on your table. This, as your server will advise you, is indispensable when it comes to preparing your pot of tea.
In line with the nationwide state of emergency declared on April 16, the government is strongly requesting that residents stay at home whenever possible and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.