The Japanese Tea Ceremony
The Japanese Tea ceremony is one of Japan's most revered traditions, one which predates modern society. It is often called, the chanoyu, meaning 'hot water for tea', or chado or sado, meaning 'way of the tea'.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an aesthetic way of welcoming guests. Typically, Japanese tea ceremonies are conducted in specially constructed spaces or rooms designed for the purpose of performing a tea ceremony. Everything is done according to an established order. Great care was taken in the choice of materials for and construction of the cha-shitsu or tea-house so as to give it a sense of rustic yet refined simplicity.
Chinese author Lu Yu wrote 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–Chán Buddhist school. His ideas would have a strong influence on the development of the Japanese tea.
Matcha became a status symbol among warriors under a feudal military government ruling Japan during the thirteenth century. They drank the matcha ahead of impending battles, said to have given them courage. They also said it helped them reflect on the Samurai Warrior ideal of sharpening focus, improving concentration, and developing patience. Under the feudal military regime, patrons became very connected with The Art Of Chanoyu or The Way Of Tea.
Murata Jukō is known in chanoyu history as an early developer of tea as a spiritual practice. He studied Zen under the monk Ikkyū, who revitalised Zen in the 15th century, and he was considered to have influenced the concept of the chanoyu. Until the 16th century, the tea ceremony mainly was performed by wealthy samurai, noblemen, and monks.
By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan.
Sen no Rikyū is still revered as the most historical figure in tea.
Rikyu and other developers of the tea ceremony emphasised the following four qualities: harmony between the guests and the implements used; respect, not only among the participants but also for the utensils; and cleanliness. Murata Jukō is known in chanoyu history as an early developer of tea as a spiritual practice. Sen no Rikyū, Takeno Jōō and its originator Murata Jukō are credited with the development of the tea ceremony known as Wabi-cha, a style of Japanese tea ceremony developed as a "transformative practice" which began to evolve its own aesthetic, in particular that of Wabi-sabi principles. Wabi-cha evolved as a style of tea ceremony that appreciated local tea-wares and simpler styles away from the ostentatious tea ceremonies of the elite. The preference of the Wabi-sabi tea masters for simple, seemingly rustic objects for use in the tea ceremony led to the production of tea utensils in this style, such as raku wares. Rikyu and other developers of the tea ceremony emphasised four qualities: harmony between the guests and the implements used; respect, not only among the participants but also for the utensils; and cleanliness.
After the death of Rikyū, essentially three schools descended to continue the tradition. Many schools of Japanese tea ceremony have evolved through the long history of chadō and are active today. The legacy Rikyu left behind, the book, Southern Record, puts forth his extensive knowledge of tea and describes meetings between friends as unique events never occurring again.
The way of tea continued to spread throughout the country and later developed not only from the court and samurai class but also towards the townspeople. By the end of the 16th century, the tea ceremony was at its climax. People all over Japan were performing the ceremony. There were even different types of tea ceremony teachers. The first type of teacher, Chanoyusha, was a professional tea ceremony teacher. A Wabi-Suki has three specific traits: belief in the tea ceremony, knowing the proper etiquette, and proficiency when working with tea. At the highest level, a Meijin.
In the 1906 essay The Book of Tea, written by the scholar Okakura Kakuzō, chadō is described as follows:
"It insulates 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."