Tea ceremony (1) composite culture


Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennobled it into a religion of aestheticism, Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

Above is a opening message from Book of Tea which was wrote by Okakura Tenshin in 1906 to introduce Japanese culture for western people .

Tea ceremony was originally developed into a kind of region in fifteenth century in Japan to cultivate humanity.

Murata Shuko, Takeno Jhooh, Senno Rikyu, those were called as Three Big Masters at the dawn of Tea ceremony. Shuko was Zen priest and Jhooh and Rikyu were merchants of Sakai city.

In Edo period (1603-1867), Tea ceremony was further developed and prevailed among all classes. Furuta Oribe, Kobori Enshu, Katagiri Sekishu, those were Big Masters from Samurai class ,while descendants of Rikyu were popular among citizens.

After Meiji Revolution, Rikyu style led by three major sects, Omote Senke, Ura Senke, Mushanokouji Senke , has become the main stream of Tea ceremony.

Tea room made by Kobori Enshu(d.hatena.ne.jp)

Composite culture

Tea ceremony is often referred as composite Japanese culture, since it is composed of various Japanese cultures.

Firstly it requires fine gardening art. Namely, you go into tea room (Chashitsu) through an alley (roji) which is very important place before you enter into sanctuary from vulgar outer world. It is a narrow pass between small beautiful Japanese gardens and composed of various sizes and shapes of stones lined asymmetry. Then you wash your hands by clean water from stone basin (tsukubai) placed on the ground.

When you enter into the tea room you have to get through a narrow and low door (nijiriguchi) which requires you to vow and kneel down on your knees.

In the tea room, you will see hanging paintings or calligraphic works and refined flower arrangement. Continuously you will find an artistic tea bowl, a tea container in a silk pouch, a tea ladle, an incense container, a sunken heath, beautifully processed charcoals, a kettle and so on.

Both the host and guests wear traditional Japanese style dress (kimono) with a fan and a small pouch for containing a silk cloth and traditional tissues.

And you will be convinced tea ceremony requires all kinds of arts and cultures.

Roji (blog.goo.ne.jp) tsukubai (senkouji.zouen.jp) nijiriguchi (cool japan guide)