The Japanese tea ceremony (chadō, or sadō, or chanoyu –
The pronunciation sadō is preferred by some schools, including Omotesenke and the Mushanokōjisenke, while the pronunciation chadō is preferred by others, including Urasenke.
Since a tea practitioner must be familiar with the production and types of tea, with kimono, calligraphy, flower arranging, ceramics, incense and a wide range of other disciplines and traditional arts in addition to his or her school’s tea practices, the study of the tea ceremony takes many years and often lasts a lifetime. Even to participate as a guest in a formal tea ceremony requires knowledge of the prescribed gestures and phrases, the proper way to take tea and sweets, and general deportment in the tea room.
Drinking of tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century in the form of the boiled tea (dancha) by the Buddhist monk Eichu, who had returned to Japan from China, where it had already been known, according to legend, for more than a thousand years. Tea soon became widely popular in Japan, and began to be cultivated locally.
The custom of drinking tea, first for medicinal, and then for purely pleasurable reasons, was already widespread throughout China. In the early 9th century, Chinese author Lu Yu wrote the Ch’a Ching (the Classic of Tea), a treatise on tea focusing on its cultivation and preparation. Lu Yu’s life had been heavily influenced by Buddhism, particularly the Zen-
In the 12th century, a new form of tea, matcha, was introduced by Eisai, another Japanese monk returning from China. This powdered green tea, which sprouts from the same plant as black tea but is unfermented and ground, was first used in religious rituals in Buddhist monasteries. By the 13th century, samurai warriors had begun preparing and drinking matcha as they adopted Zen Buddhism, and the foundations of the tea ceremony were laid.
Tea ceremony developed as a “transformative practice,” and began to evolve its own aesthetic, in particular that of wabi. Wabi, meaning quiet or sober refinement, or subdued taste, “is characterized by humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism, profundity, imperfection, and asymmetry [emphasizing] simple, unadorned objects and architectural space, and [celebrating] the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials”. Ikkyu, who revitalized Zen in the 15th century, had a profound influence on the tea ceremony.
By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan. Sen no Rikyu, perhaps the most well-
Types of ceremony
The ceremonies described below are performed in both the Omotesenke and Urasenke styles.
Chabako demae (Omotesenke, Urasenke) is so called because the equipment is removed from and then replaced into a special box (chabako, literally tea box).This ceremony is approx 35-
Hakobi demae (Omotesenke, Urasenke) is closely related to ryū-
Tea ceremony and calligraphy
Calligraphy, mainly in the form of hanging scrolls, plays a central role in the tea ceremony. In Japan the formal name for this process of brush strokes is zenga. Scrolls, often written by famous calligraphers or Buddhist monks or painted by well-
Tea ceremony and flower arranging
A chabana flower arrangement in front of a hanging scroll.
Chabana (literally “tea flowers”) is the simple style of flower arranging used in tea ceremony. Chabana has its roots in ikebana, another traditional style of Japanese flower arranging, which itself has roots in Shinto and Buddhism.
Chabana evolved from a less formal style of ikebana, which was used by early tea masters. The chabana style is now the standard style of arrangement for tea ceremony. Chabana is said, depending upon the source, to have been either developed or championed by Sen no Rikyu.
At its most basic, a chabana arrangement is a simple arrangement of seasonal flowers placed in a container. Chabana arrangements typically comprise few items, and little or no “filler” material. Unlike ikebana (which often uses shallow, wide dishes), tall, narrow vases are frequently used in chabana. Vases are made from natural materials such as bamboo, as well as metal or ceramic, but rarely glass.
Chabana arrangements are so simple that frequently no more than a single blossom is used; this blossom will invariably lean towards or face the guests.