Japanese Tea Ceremony: a Critique for
Screens and Scrolls
A lesson plan for grades 9–12 visual arts education
This lesson is the last part of a larger unit on talking and writing about as well as creating
Japanese screen and scroll paintings. The purpose o f this unit plan to introduce
descriptive aspects of art criticism to students at a rate they feel comfortable with while
teaching them to the art and culture of Japan. In this lesson, students critique illustrations
of classmates' descriptions of Japanese screens or scrolls. While teachers could teach any
of these lessons independently, I designed the lessons to be taught together as part of a
Teacher's lesson goals/objectives
demonstrate knowledge of the ancient practice of the Japa nese Tea Ceremony.
discuss the merits of their work and their classmates' work.
Georgia curriculum alignment
Visual Arts Education (2001 version - Approved/Future Implementation in2001)
Sub Area: Visual Arts I (Grades 9-12)
Goal 5: The learne r will unde rs tand the visual arts in re lation to history and cultures.
Objective 1: Know that the visual arts have a history, purpose and function in all culture s.
Objective 2: Identify spe cific work s of art as be longing to particular cultures, times and
Objective 3: Compare re lationships of works of art to one anothe r in te rms of history,
aesthe tics, and cultural/e thnic groups.
Objective 4: Describe the existence of art movements, pe riods, and styles.
Goal 6: The learne r will re fle ct upon and assess the characte ristics and me rits of the ir work
and the work of othe rs.
Objective 1: Describe the various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Objective 2: Describe how people ?s ex pe riences influe nce the de ve lopment of spe cific
Objective 6: C ritique artwork through the use of: prope r vocabulary, art elements and de sign
principles, meaning, fee ling, mood and ideas, oral and written expression.
Objective 7: Ex plain the varied responses to spe cific artworks.
1 1/2 days
A classroom can easily be transformed into a roji (tea garden). Clear a space where
students can sit on the floor. In my last classroom, I had tables with folding legs. We
folded the legs of four tables and made a large rectangle on the floor. We used the rest of
the tables as a petition so that there was an actually entrance to our 'roji' from the rest of
For an authentic tea ceremony, this could be a costly lesson. If someone in your school
has a tea kit (I got mine from Barnes and Noble for about $35) or a tea kettle, borrow it
for the day. You can get students to sign up to bring materials from home. You'll need tea
bowls--punch cups without handles or just the smallest paper or plastic bowls you can
find. You'll also need: a whisk (bamboo if you want to go all out but wire is fine), kettle
or teapot, a few napkins to fold into small rectangles, a wide bowl to use for waste, tea
(tea bags will work just fine), and some sweets (fruit, cake, cookies, ramen noodles, rice
etc). Student handouts can be used to review the day before the ceremony.
Technology resources needed
If you plan to use the PowerPoint presentation to introduce Japanese Art, you will need
an LCD projector, a computer, and a screen. This should be done either at the beginning
of the unit or before this lesson if you're only doing the ceremony without the other
Because I use this lesson at the end of a unit in Japanese art, students would need to have
written a description and an illustration of someo ne else's description. Have all three of
these prepared to be displayed in the room. Students may choose to mat and hang their
paintings in the style of the Japanese scroll paintings. If they illustrated a screen, they
may wish to set in somewhere in the room as a petition from booksacks and extra chairs
Have all materials cleaned and ready for the ceremony.
A Week Before the Project
Explain to students that we will be doing a project on Japanese paintings and you would
love to have a Japanese tea ceremony as their critique. If students show interest in this, let
them create committees for decorating the room or bringing the food and drinks. This is
so much more successful if students take "ownership" of the ceremony and the project.
All arrangements need to be done outside of class so it does not take away from the
The Day Before the Ceremony
1. The day before the tea ceremony, give students a handout. Discuss the vocabulary
and procedures in the ceremony.
2. Demonstrate with 2-3 student volunteers as you would normally practice the
ritual. Allow students to ask questions so they are very familiar with the
procedures before the day of the ceremony.
Right Before the Ceremony
1. I allow students to enter class and put their things away. They need to be in the
right frame of mind before we begin and this may take a few minutes.
2. Review the following steps right before they go in and set the tone with your own
voice and actions.
Entering the Roji and Greeting the Host
1. Students will enter our pretend roji (tea garden) which is the section of the
classroom decorated for the ceremony. The word chashitsu actually refers to the
building in which the ceremony is performed. As students come in, they examine
the scrolls that have been placed in the roji for the ceremony.
2. Students must bow to the hostess, and the hostess must greet the guests one by
one before they enter the roji.
3. Then, they may take a tatami (pillow or mat) and have a seat around the short
table we've set up. They may fold their napkin as they wait but should sit quietly,
silently acknowledging classmates as they sit down.
1. Depending on the size of your class, you may want to have 1 student assigned to
prepare tea for every 4-5 students to make the time go by faster. This would also
allow you to use them as extra hostesses and allow you to move about the room
while taking notes in the checklist.
2. As the tea is being made, ask students to begin passing sweets (to save time). But,
instruct them not to eat until the tea is served and everyone has sweets.
3. To make the tea, have hot water in the tea kettles to pour into each tea bowl or
cup with a tea bag. After the tea has seeped in the cup for about 1-2 minutes,
remove the tea bag and put it in the waste bowl. Offer tea to the guests and ask if
it is too hot. Then, drink your own tea.
Taking the Sweet
The sweets are the refreshments that the students have brought to share (fruit,
cookies, noodles, etc). Have each student pass the plate of sweets to the student
beside them. Before students take the sweets, they say to the person after them
"pardon me for going before you."
Discussing the Artwork
1. When everyone is served, we begin our critique. The purpose of this critique is to
reflect on the work created the entire week rather than to judge what artwork was
more "successful." Establish this at the beginning of this discussion and open the
floor for reflections from the students.
2. Begin to ask thought-provoking questions about the process of both illustrating
and describing the artworks. What surprised you? What did you enjoy the most
about this project? Was there anything that particularly frustrated you? Why? Try
to call on students that normally might not speak during class discussion.
While I give students a rubric with set criteria for evaluating their painting (see
attachment below), the process is more important than the product they end up with.
Individual discussions with students while monitoring the activity should focus on
students' thinking process and the sensitivity they develop with the paintbrush. In this
short lesson, students will not be able to completely master this ancient art. The focus
should be on experimentation and looking for details in art and writing.
I also use a checklist during critiques to check for student involvement.
Supplemental resources/information for teachers
I've included some resources at the end of the PowerPoint presentation that helped me
create the introduction to Japanese Art.
TeaHyakka Magazine: The Encyclopedia of Japanese Tea Ceremony
http://www.teahyakka.com/ This vast collection of poems, history, procedures,
and images related to the tea ceremony is easy to navigate.
The World in a Bowl of Tea - http://www.amacord.com/tea/ This site includes
facts, links, recipes, and directions for arranging flowers for the tea ceremony.
You may want to suggest this site to students who want to prepare dishes or
flower arrangements for the ceremony.
Ackland Art Museum - http://www.ackland.org/
Although this is not a very authentic tea ceremony, it is the best version I could create
within the budget and time constraints of public schools. Students have particularly
enjoyed this lesson because it allows us to escape to a calm and tranquil retreat from our
normally busy school day. It also encouraged students to practice respect and hospitality
in sharing this ceremony together.
More comments after teaching the lesson: The students absolutely loved the tea
ceremony. They always surprise me by going the extra step in bringing flowers, food, and
tea from home. After the ceremony, I asked for suggestions for the next time I do the
ceremony. One student said that we should have to write a paper about Japanese
ediquette before the ceremony! Another student said that students should have to dress up
in traditional Japanese kimonos. Several students mentioned more authentic Japanese
dishes, music, and more time to discuss the paintings. In reflection, I wish that I had spent
more time teaching about how the scrolls were integrated into the ceremony. There is so
much that can be taught through the Japanese tea ceremony that it ca n be a unit in itself.
Japanese Screens & Scrolls
You will describe the ancient art of Japanese Screens and Scrolls through written imagery. You will
practice observational skills in studying the subtleties of Japanese art in order to create your own ink
painting from a written description.
Art history Background
Japanese Art has influenced a number of artists in Europe and America such as Monet, Van
Gogh, and Mary Cassatt. We could easily spend an entire semester studying the centuries of fine art
produced in China but for this project we will focus on some of the screen and scroll paintings that
Due Dates: By Monday before you leave class, turn in the rough draft of your written description
in to me and your notes from the PowerPoint presentation.. By Wednesday at the beginning of
class, have your written description revised and typed. On Wednesday you will receive someone
else’s written description to illustrate. Have that finished by the end of class of Thursday.
Friday we will critique all of our work (in a Japanese tea ceremony).
Bamboo and Roc ks, Yuan dynasty (1279?368), 1318.
The Metropolitan Mu seum of Art. A vailable at: http://www.metmu seum.org/
How to describe your painting
Look very carefully at the painting you are given for at least
3-4 minutes without writing anything down. Study every
detail as if you were ‘reading’ it from one side to another.
Break down the painting into spaces such as the foreground
For about 2-3 minutes non-stop, sketch and write down as
many adjectives and details as you can remember. At this
point, don’t worry about complete sentences but just put
everything into words that you possibly can about this image.
Think about size, values, colors, textures, and any visual
quality that can be expressed in words. Read the text that goes with the image to add to
your understanding of the image.
Organize your thoughts into an order that will make sense. You may want to describe
the painting from top to bottom or left to right. Whatever you choose, make that clear
to the reader. Be sure to use complete sentences because complete sentences are simply
complete thoughts. Each paragraph should describe a different part or aspect of the
painting. . Describe the visual characteristics (color, shapes, lines, spaces, values, etc.).
How does your eye move around the picture? Do you tend to keep focusing on one part
of the picture (center of interest). Look at the composition of the artwork and list ways
that the design elements and principles are organized. How has the artist used space in
this artwork? Describe objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background and
the relationship between them. Turn in this rough draft to me before you leave class
today (try to have about a page or more).
After I have received you rough draft, reread it for clarity. Make corrections on this
rough draft and then type your second draft in the multi-media labs. Before you print,
reread the entire description to see if you could picture the painting in your head without
ever seeing it.
HOW TO READ FOR DETAILS AND CREATE YOUR INK PAINTING
Read the written description you have been given trying to picture the entire image in
your mind just as it has been described. Reread it again making thumbnail sketches in
your sketchbook as you begin to visually interpret certain details. These reading skills
are very important for the artist. Whether if it is for reading an artist magazine to
understand how to do something new or understanding what the customer wants when
they commission you to create an artwork for money, artists must be able to visual
details and spatial relationships from text.
After you have experimented with various brushstrokes on newsprint paper, you may
want to decide on what techniques will be best suited for this particular painting. If you
have read that the painting has a soft misty background, you may want to consider
creating a light wash. Play with the various brushstrokes before you begin your painting.
When you are ready to begin, cut the high-grade watercolor paper or rice paper to the
size that you need. Tape that to either the table or a drawing board to be sure it doesn’t
buckle or warp once you’ve added water to it. Then, paint the image you’ve developed
in your head using the descriptions, your sketches, and other examples of Japanese Art.
You may not look at a copy of the original image for which the description was written.
CRITERIA P OINTS EARNED P OSSIBLE POINTS
Written description vividly describes the given image using 25
The ink painting accurately illustrates the written description. 25
The ink painting demonstrates controlled use of the brush 25
similar to the style of Japanese ink paintings.
Participation during the critique (see teacher’s checklist) 25
Total points 100
Our critique will be on Friday, August 25, 2000
I have read the directions for this project and know how I will be graded.
_________________________________________ Your signature
Name_____________________________ Period _____
Student’s Notes for Powe rPoint Presentation
Use this handout to keep notes as you participate in the discussion during the PowerPoint
presentation. The major concepts discussed are important for understanding influences
upon Japanese Art. The questions I’ve asked are to help organize your thoughts. Write
down other ideas that are emphasized during the discussion or details that interest you.
Feel free to sketch images from the presentation as you take notes.
Slide 1: How has Asian Art influenced other artists?
Slide 2: Geography
Slide 3: How did religion affect Japanese Art?
Slide 4: Zen Story
Slide 5- Religion in Asia
Slide 6: What the basic beliefs of Buddhism? What is Enlightenment?
Slide 7: Zen Story
Slide 8: Describe who a Bodhisattva is.
Slide 9: Zen Story
Slide 10 and 11: Composition. What is different about the use of space in Japanese Art?
Slide 12: What is media? What kind of media is used in these Japanese screen
paintings? How is that reflective of the beliefs systems?
Slide 13: What is Monochrome or Monochromatic? What feeling does this create?
Slide 14: Hanging Scrolls and Hand Scrolls
Slide 15: Zen Story
Slide 16: Folding Screens- what purpose did they serve?
Slide 17: Woodblock print. Who is the artist who created this famous print? Who did he
believe was in control- man or nature? Why?
Slide 18: The Way of Tea- why was the tea ceremony performed? What are some of the
main ideas that the tea ceremony honors?
Questions for Comprehension
Describe some of the similarities between some of the images you’ve seen in the
PowerPoint presentation. In other words, what are some of the common characteristics in
Why is it important in your opinion that we study art from other countries other than the
Japanese Tea Ceremony
To understand Japanese aesthetics, it’s necessary to try to have a
Japanese worldview. A major part of this view has been very influenced by Zen
Buddhism and harmony with nature. Because this idea has emphasized all
week, we will critique our work through the Japanese tea ceremony. The scroll
paintings chosen for the ceremony helped set the mood. Tea Ceremony is
known as one of many Japanese cultural traditions. In fact, tea had a very
important role in Japan: first as a medicine and later as a beverage. The act of
pouring the tea became a complicated and elegant Buddhist ritual called the
Sado, the Way of Tea. A major aim of this ceremony was to focus the mind from
the world outside.
There are four principles in the Way of Tea which are also considered the
highest principals of humanity:
Respect Harmony Purity Tranquility
In our critique as well as in our everyday life, we should take a moment to reflect
on each of these principals to attain peace of mind.
ENTERING THE “TEA ROOM” AND
SETTING THE MOOD
We will decorate a small part of the art room for our tea ceremony. When you
enter the classroom, quickly put away your book sacks and get ready to enter our
pretend roji. When you enter our roji, examine our scrolls and screens that have
been placed three the day before. Bow to the host or hostess as he or she
greets the guests one by one before entering the roji. Then, you may take a
tatami (pillow or mat) and have a seat around the short table we've set up. If you
don’t remember to bring a pillow, use a folded smock to sit on the floor.
TAKING THE SWEET
The sweets are the refreshments that we have brought to share (fruit, cookies,
noodles, etc). As you pass the plate of sweets to the student next to you, they
must say something to the person on the other side. Before students take the
sweets, they say to the person after them "pardon me for going before you."
The World in a Bowl of Tea at http://www.amacord.com/tea/ has some recipes
for sweets in the Japanese tea ceremony.