The Japanese tea ceremony is an important aspect of Japanese culture and customs. It involves the preparation and serving of powdered green tea. The ceremony is conducted formally or informally with minor differences in setting to suit the different situations.
In the story Thousand Cranes, the protagonist Kikuji Mitani was invited to a tea ceremony by Chikako Kurimoto, his late father’s former mistress. After receiving the invitation he thought the ceremony was being conducted to honor his father. Kikuji later learned that the ceremony was organized so he could meet with Yukiko Inamura, Chikako’s student. Chikako wanted the two to get to know each other for marriage purposes. Kikuji is impressed by Yuriko’s beauty but is unable to take his attraction to the next level. He views Yukiko as part of the past that he was trying to break away from because she was Chikako’s tea ceremony student, a ceremony he associated with the past.