What is Tea Ceremony?
Tea Ceremony is called “Sado (Sadoh)” in Japanese, literally meaning the way of Tea. The master of the ceremony prepares and serves powdered green tea to his/her guests and the guests enjoy the tea.
In Sado, all the participants act following the traditional manners regarding how to prepare tea, how to have tea, how to bow and stand, how to walk and so on. These manners seem to be a bit complicated at first, but have been developed to entertain the guests and to serve them delicious tea.
Sado is not just about serving and having tea but a comprehensive art since it’s a fusion of the following many factors; the thoughts that values spiritual interactions between a host and his/her guests, the aesthetic arrangements that are seen in the tea house and in the garden, selection and appreciation of the tea utensils, served delicate seasonal dishes and confectioneries, and the series of traditional manners.
But the most important thing is to enjoy having tea while touching the hospitality from the host.
The history of Tea Ceremony
Eisai, the founder of Zen Buddhist school introduced tea culture to Japan after he finished Buddhist training in China. Together with the penetration of Zen Buddhism, tea culture spread nationwide during Kamakura Period(1185-1333).
During Muromachi Period(1392-1491), tea parties with “Karamono”, fine utensils imported from China became popular. On the other hand, Murata Juko(1423-1502) established “Wabicha” tea ceremony style using utensils made in Japan. Wabicha highly valued the interactions between the host and guests using simple utensils rather than flashy and gorgeous ones. Takeno Jouou(1502-1555) inherited this philosophy and his apprentice, Senno Rikyu(1522-1591) finally completed the style during Azuchi Momoyama Period(1573-1603).
This is the foundation of Tea ceremony which continues until today. Decendants of Rikyu began “Sansenke”; “Omote Senke”, “Ura Senke”, “Mushanokouji Senke”. Many schools were born from them.
Where can we enjoy a tea ceremony?
In some Japanese style gardens, there are tea houses where you can easily enjoy tea culture with the seasonal traditional Japanese confectionery and a cup of powdered green tea. Also, there are some places to take a short lesson for tea ceremony in Tokyo if you you would like to try it a bit more seriously. Please let me know if you are interested in joining tea ceremony or enjoying tea.