What is the tea ceremony?

  • 2006.10.05 Thursday
  • 21:23
What is the tea ceremony? (30/May/2005 Kahori OCHI)

It is very difficult question. I can’t find its answer even now.

My teacher told, “tea ceremony refracts Japanese heart”. And she also said to me ”when host open tea ceremony, who must concentrate on one thing, as it is, how to entertain your guest. However, you yourself think of the “how” aspect. I can teach you the technicalities, (Almost each hand movement is prescribed, even walking!) but you must find the “heart “of the tea ceremony on your own”.

According to SEN Rikyu, the 16th-century tea master who perfected the Way of Tea, when he was asked to explain what this Way entails. He replied that it was a matter of observing but seven rules:
Make a satisfying bowl of tea;
Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently;
Provide a sense of warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer;
Arrange the flowers as though they were in the field;
Be ready ahead of time; Be prepared in case it should rain;
Act with utmost consideration toward your guests.

The questioner was vexed by Rikyu's reply, saying that those were simple matters that anyone could handle. To this, Rikyu responded that he would become a disciple of the person who could carry them out without fail.


This story tells us that the Way of Tea is basically concerned with activities that are a part of everyday life, yet to master these requires great cultivation.

In this sense, the Way of Tea is well described as the Art of Living. As seen within Rikyu's seven rules, the Way of Tea concerns the creation of the proper setting for that moment of enjoyment of a perfect bowl of tea. (from ura senke HP)

Beside, The custom has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism.

My favorite and most famous spirits is “Remember, thought that when you meet that guest for the tea ceremony, it might be the only time you see the guest in your life”.

It indicate that the encounter of the host and the guest in the tea ceremony us a special occasion which occurs only in a lifetime. I think we can say same thing in our life as well, therefore, in my opinion, the tea ceremony is kind of Japanese philosophy.
menkkyoCertificate of tea ceremony

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