Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Japanese tea ceremony

Japan is certainly the country where tea preparation...if done in traditional way...is very complex.
For a Japanese tea ceremony is not only preparation of a beverage. It also has much deeper, spiritual meaning.
Japanese tea ceremony (chado or sado, "the way of tea") is influenced by Zen Buddhism. It is actually ceremonial preparation of powdered tea or matcha by specially trained person for a small group of guest. Everything is done in
very peaceful atmosphere.
Tea ceremony can be preformed as single event. This is called cha-no-you ("hot water of tea"). There is also cha-ji or chakai ("tea meeting") which is treated as full tea ceremony which includes kaiseki (a light meal), usucha (thin tea) and koicha (thick tea). This full ceremony lasts about four hours.
Person preforming tea ceremony has to be very educated. Apart from all kind of knowledge about tea this person has to know issues in connection with kimono, calligraphy, flower arranging, ceramics. That is why education of such person lasts for several years or even whole lifetime. The person preforming tea ceremony usually wears kimono.
It has to be said that even being a guest at tea ceremony is not easy. Person has to learn proper gestures, phrases etc.
What objects are needed to preform a Japanese tea ceremony? This tea preparation equipment is called dogu. Dogu includes
following basic object (full list of objects is very long and complex):
1) chakin is rectangular white linen or hemp cloth used for ritual cleaning of the tea bowl.
2) fukusa is square silk cloth used for ritual cleaning of the tea scoop and the tea caddy. Fukusa is also used to hold hot kettle or pot lids. Guests of the ceremony use fukusa to examine some objects during ceremony. Fukusa for men is usually purple and the one for women is orange or red.
3) hishaku (ladle) is made of bamboo with a nodule in the central part of the handle. Hisaku is used to move water to and from the iron pot and fresh water container.
4) tana ("shelves")includes different wooden or bamboo furniture used in tea ceremony
5) chawan (tea bowl). Shallow ones are used during summer as tea in them cools faster.
6) chaki (tea caddy) Chaki has two styles: natsume and cha-ire.
7) chashaku (tea scoop) are used to carry tea into the tea caddy. Chashaku are made from ivory, bamboo, Japanese apricot etc.
8) chasen (whisk) is carved from bamboo. Old and damaged chasen are not just thrown in garbage. They are carried to tempeles where they are ritually burned in the ceremony called chasen kuyo.
Japanese tea ceremony actually appears in several variation depends which traditional school is preforming it. Three main schools are Omoteseneke, Urasenke and Sansenke.
Tea ceremonies are usually organized outside or in a tea room or a tea house.
Now something about the ceremony itself, the way it is actually preformed. Guests entering the room where the ceremony is organized admire its beauty. Then everyone kneels on determined places on tatami mat. When guests are seated, the host (ceremony preformer) enters the room. He or she brings all the objects neccessary for tea ceremony. The hosts ritually cleans them with fukusa cloth. Moves during this process are specially determined. It takes lotof practise to learn them properly. Everything is done slowly, in kind of peaceful way. After this process the actual tea preparation begins. The water is boiled in metal or pottery kettle or pot. Hot water is thenpoured or scooped with the hishaku into the chawan. The chasen (tea whisk) is checked in a special way before being used to whiskthe hot water. The whisked water is then poured out into the kensui bowl and the tea bowl is cleaned with a chakin (linen cloth). This is done to cleanse the bowl after each guest has their tea, as well as being part of the ritual cleansing process.The guest are then offered some sweets. When everything is clean tea preparation begins. A small amount of powdered green tea (macha) is scooped with the chashaku (tea scoop) out of the natsume (tea caddy), into the tea bowl. Hot water is then poured or scooped into the tea bowl. The tea and water are then whisked quickly, making tea for the first guest.The first guest is offred tea by the host. He takes the tea. He appologizes to the guest sitting next to him for getting tea first.
It took me quite a while to write this post. And I know it is probably a bit difficult to read.
To make everything more fun I put this video. It's the best I could found on the Internet.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the Japanese tea ceremony is truly one hundred percent about TEA. I have experienced many tea ceremonies and study it myself, and have witnessed the host pouring his whole heart into the preparation of tea.
Thank you for this post on the Japanese tea ceremony!!

Anonymous said...

... here's a working link :)

seigetsuyamada said...

We are happy to inform you that we have completed our web page for “Konan-yaki” traditional chawan artworks in Japan. Through this web you can look at the variety of beautiful artworks from the south-end of Biwako, the largest lake in Japan. The artwork is made by the fine hands of our artists one by one. This web is operated directly by the Konan-yaki farm.



Yours Sincerely,

Mr. Seigetsu Yamada
1-1-18, Chuo, Ohtsu, Shiga
520-0043 Japan
TEL: +81-77-523-6299

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