Japanese Tea Ceremony

A Tea Ceremony

Pictured to the left is an artist's rendition of a tea ceremony painted after the Tokugawa period of Japan. It showcases the way that people set up the areas where they drink their tea. It's also a means to show the art style from the time.

Japan changed the simple act of drinking tea into their own type of tea ceremony, which they called chanoyu. It began from the act of preparing tea and drinking it in its simplest form. The next step toward the inventing of chanoya came from sarei, or the rules of drinking tea, which was established in the mid 14th century during the Muromachi period. The other portions of the groundwork consisted of mono-suki, or summed up as an asethetic that came from a bond between objects and people, furumai, also known as behavior, and chashitsu, which is related to the setup of a tea room. Despite these additions, the main point of these tea ceremonies stayed, the act of just making tea and drinking it.

The main thing about chanoyu is that it is a type of religion that is more focused on just the behavior of making the tea and drinking it. It was, and is, considered a way of life for the people that decided to take part. Because of this association, sometimes it got tied to Zen and even Buddhism. In fact, some said that "tea and Zen have the same flavor," and that "The Buddha dharma is also in the way of tea." One of the most influential people in the world of the Japanese "Way of Tea" was Rikyū, who was the tea master for Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi when Nobunaga passed away. Because of being close to Hideyoshi, he was able to spread chanoyu further.   

Written By: Fred Pokora

Further Reading:

Anderson, Jennifer Lea. An Introduction to Japanese Tea Ritual. N.p.: SUNY, 1992.

Varley, Paul, and Kumakura Isao, editors. Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu. Honolulu, University of Hawai'i Press, 1989.