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'Tea ceremony car' goes on display in Kyoto

A car that has had its backseat remodeled as a tea room is seen at the Kiwakoto flagship store in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward. A foldable shelf for placing a vase and other items is built on the back door. (Mainichi/Kotaro Chigira)
A tea bowl and other utensils are seen placed on tatami mats inside a car with a tea room in it, at the Kiwakoto flagship store in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward. (Mainichi/Kotaro Chigira)
A foldable shelf inside the rear door of a car with a tea ceremony space is seen at Kiwakoto's flagship store in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward. The decorative metal fittings are lacquered in urushi. (Mainichi/Kotaro Chigira)

KYOTO -- A car which has had its backseat space remodeled into a traditional Japanese tea room is on display at a car interiors specialist business in this west Japan city, in a demonstration of how it might be possible to perform tea ceremony wherever you go.

    Kiwakoto, a shop specializing in car interiors in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward, refurbished a Jimny lightweight passenger car to create the room, which is equipped with tea ceremony utensils. The space measures about a meter wide, 80 centimeters high and 75 centimeters deep.

    The shop, which adorns car interiors with traditional Kyoto craftwork, received a request from TV writer Kundo Koyama, known for creating Kumamoto Prefecture's beloved bear mascot Kumamon, and took around six months to complete the refit.

    The tea room inside uses material produced by venerable Kyoto artisans, including Nishijin textile on the ceiling, traditional Japanese paper on its tatami mats, and a foldable shelf for a vase and other items fitted inside the rear door. Between the backseat and the driver's seat is a "shoji" paper screen that can slide up and down.

    Because the tea space is too small for sitting in, the host is expected to make tea while standing outside the vehicle, with its rear door open and tea utensils placed on the tatami mats.

    "We'd like to make products that bring the best out of artisan skills, without getting involved in competitions over price," a shop official who worked on the project said.

    The tea room car is on display until May 9.

    (Japanese original by Kotaro Chigira, Kyoto Bureau)

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