During one of my insecure moment in life, I thought about Wabi Sabi and Chanoyu (Japanese Matcha Teasim).   That is how I painted the art and thought of making this blog post.  Around 16th century in Japan,  Japanese Chanoyu / Teaism sifts its direction to appreciate Wabi sabi style, instead of something very extravagant and flashy, thanks to the tea master called Rikyu.   Even today, we practice Matcha tea in the same way which Rikyu started. 

*Picture of tea master Rikyu (Sen no Rikyu)

“Wabi sabi” is a word people sort of understand but hard to fully experience it or share the experience.  It is to find beauty in something transient and subtle (I think this part is relatively easy), and try to find the feeling of completeness in something not so adequate or perfect (Now, this is easer said than done).  I want to share the section of my favorite novel so you can get the clear picture of Wabi Sabi.  

There is a famous novel and movie called “Ask This of Rikyu” in Japanese about this tea master, Rikyu.  

Back then, it was a period of time called Feudal Japan, when areas were governed by different Shoguns.   Most tea masters were sponsored by Shoguns to continue to devote to tea and host or teach tea gatherings for them.   These Shoguns fired tea masters occasionally.   Japanese Chanoyu / Teasim is a philosophy, art, practices, and communities.   It’s not easy to be good at all of those, and get along with a power-hungry Shogun.    Even Rikyu was sponsored by the Shogun and struggled to get along with him at the end.   Rikyu was the number one and had many students.  In the novel,  One of the student, another tea practitioner, got fired by the Shogun and had to leave his home without a job until his Shogun gives him a permission to return.  

*Picture of the Shogun – Hideyoshi Toyotomi

There is a scene in the novel, where Rikyu had a chance to meet his former student unexpectedly while he was out of job wishing to get the permission from Shogun to return.  Rikyu asked the student, how is his tea experience after he left the home town.   It must be an opportunities for him to experience and appreciate Wabi Sabi of Matcha tea.  He basically said he is not enjoying it and matcha tea can be only enjoyed well when you have money…

I feel this part of the novel nailed the concept of Wabi Sabi.   Wabi sabi is to find beauty in something transient and subtle, and try to find the feeling of completeness in something not so adequate or perfect.  Now, can you imagine you lost your job and feeling insecure.  Somehow find a peace in yourself,  find beauty in the simple tea bowl and bamboo utensils, be thankful for farmers who created tea leaves,  devote everything you have so you can make one bowl of Matcha tea warm and tasty.


*Picture of Matcha Tea,  the background is Yutaka Ai painting of a mountain with a girl making matcha green tea.

This bowl is called Karatsu made in Saga or Nagasaki prefecture which is southern part of Japan.   Tea masters of Wabi Sabi have adored this Karatsu ceramics bowl for hundred of years in Japan.

This blog was written by Yutaka Ai, Japanese artist and Chanoyu tea ambassador.   If you would like to get an update, please sign up for the news letter, which is available on the right hand side of the page.


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