We visited a traditional ceremonial tea-room in the home of a third generation artist with scroll paintings (kakejiku) that had been painted by his grandfather, Kyoto, Japan
One of the highlights of our visit to Kyoto was the attendance by four of us (accompanied by our guide/translator, John) to the private home of a third generation artist for Chanoya (the formal Japanese tea ceremony). This was a very special opportunity, as the tea master has 32 years of experience and is a teacher of Chanoya. Our host’s home has a traditional ceremonial tea-room in it, which was used by his father and grandfather whose wives served as the tea masters. The ceremonial tea-room had two scroll paintings (kakejiku) that had been painted by his grandfather. The ceramic tea cups (chawan) were also made by his grandfather and are now very valuable artifacts – we felt very privileged to be trusted to use them for our tea ceremony (with all rings and arm jewelry removed to avoid any chips in the ceramic cups). Our host is also an artist and is continuing his family traditions. Following the tea ceremony we had the opportunity to have a conversation (via our guide/translator) with our gracious host and learned a lot of his family’s history. This was a great experience and a wonderful introduction to a very important cultural ceremony in Japan.
This ceremonial tea-room overlooked the interior courtyard garden, Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan; for the guests, it contributes to achieving chanoyu — a mental discipline for pursuing “wabi” (a state of mind in which a person is calm and content, with a profound simplicity)
The hot water for the tea is heated in a kama (kettle) that is placed on (and heated by) the furo (charcoal brazier) that is built into the floor of the tea-room, Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan
Chanoya (the tea ceremony) or Sadō (literally, the way of the tea) was introduced to Japan from China and perfected by Master Sen-no-Rikyu based on the spirit of Zen in the 16th century. “It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of the tea utensils is considered from the guests view point (angle), especially the main guests called the Shokyaku.” – www.japanese-tea-ceremony.net
For Japanese people, chanoyu is a mental discipline for pursuing wabi (a state of mind in which a person is calm and content, with a profound simplicity) and is at the same time a performance in which form and grace are paramount.
The teacup on the left (for the honored guest) was created by our host’s grandfather and is a family heirloom; before the ceremony the natsume (a lacquerware container for usucha (powdered macha tea)) was resting in the honored guest’s tea cup, Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan; also shown are the bamboo chasen (whisk) and bamboo chaskaku (tea “scoop”)
After we were seated and comfortable on the floor (lotus position), the tea master passed each of us a sweet pastry, to prepare our palates for the bitter matcha tea that she would individually prepare, Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan; as the honored guest – with his back to the kakejiku (scroll painting) and flowers — your blogger received the first pastry and, later, the first cup of tea
Our host (on the left) was very formal during the ceremony; here the tea master uses a hishaku (ladle) to pour the hot water from the kama (kettle) into each tea cup (one at a time) which had the powdered matcha tea previously scooped out by her into the bottom of the tea cup, Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan
The tea master whisking the powdered matcha tea into the hot water in the tea cup for the honored guest (served first), Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan
During the chanoya (the tea ceremony) the honored guest (who has his back to the kakejiku (scroll) and flowers) might watch the tea master and alternately seek chanoyu by looking out at the garden, Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan
During the chanoya (the tea ceremony) guests (other than the honored guest) might look at the kakejiku (scroll painting) and flowers (which are arranged by the tea master), Japanese Tea House, Kyoto, Japan