Chanoyu is to prepare and serve Japanese Matcha tea to guests in the carefully defined manner. The style, most people are familiar with, was developed around 16th century by Sen-no-Rikyu in Japan. His teaching was passed down from generations to generations as Japanese tradition and culture. I sometimes refer it as Teaism as it has much more thoughts than just making a bowl of tea.
When we prepare and server tea, we consider Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility.
Harmony is among everyone who is involved in tea. Back in the days, the entry to the tea room was made very small to emphasize that Samurai can not bring his sword inside of the tea room to keep the harmony. Tea room was the only place where people felt safe to enjoy precious moment without worrying about politics, local wars, and power structure. I’m 5’2” and I still struggle trying to get inside of the traditional tea room gracefully…
Even in this age, we wish to have tea with people who might have different background or believes. Respect shows in many gestures during the tea gathering. For example, a guest bows to the person to his or her right first, to ask if he or she would like another bowl of tea, then bows to the left of showing gratitude of drinking the tea before the person, and finally bows to the person who prepares the tea.
Purity can also been seen by the tea master who purifies the clean tea containers and utensils in front of the guests. Wearing white socks is also common in the tea ceremony and it represents the purity.
Tranquility is one of my favorite part of doing the tea. I usually stay quietly during the tea practice or ceremony, and almost feel the entire session is the meditation. Many people say the Chanoyu experience is to go to the little Universe, leaving the daily life behind. I particularly like listening to the sound of the water boiling in the iron kettle in the quiet tea room.
Many thoughts in one bowl of tea, huh? I would like to hear what you think about this. 🙂