Japanese Tea Ceremony Still An Important Part Of Japanese Culture

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					The Japanese tea ceremony is a unique Japanese cultural tradition, which began in the
15th century. It has evolved and changed over the centuries, and today there are many
different styles and schools of tea in Japan. Despite the various styles and schools of
tea, they all share the same overall philosophy, which has been shaped by its origins
in Zen Buddhism.

The guiding philosophy of the Japanese tea ceremony rests on the principles:
'Wa'- Harmony
'Kei'- Respect
'Sei'- Purity
'Jaku'- Serenity

One of the key historical figures in the Japanese tea ceremony - Sen no Rikyu, is
believed to have emphasized these principles in the development of the tea ceremony.
Sen no Rikyu is credited with having developed all the steps in the tea ceremony and
with turning it into a ritual which he passed down onto his students.Sen no Rikyu
emphasized the spirituality and the simplicity in the art of drinking green tea.

Japanese Tea Ceremony Today

Today the Japanese tea ceremony is still actively studied by students of all ages. There
are tea ceremony clubs in high schools, cities and the countryside. Although the
Japanese tea ceremony was restricted to only the wealthy in the past, today it is
something everyone can take part in.

Apart from people studying the tea ceremony as an interest, they are also held to mark
a special event (wedding) or time of the year (New Year). That is why, most Japanese
people have experienced the tea ceremony, most likely by being a guest at one.

The Setting

The Japanese Tea Ceremony usually takes place in a traditional Japanese tatami room.
A traditional tea room has a raised alcove at the front of the room, which is simply
and elegantly decorated with a hanging scroll and a flower arrangement.

The hanging scroll usually has a simple poem written in Japanese calligraphy, which
has been carefully chosen by the host to set the mood and atmosphere of the tea
ceremony.

The Tea Ceremony Itself

There are many steps which the host will carry out during the tea ceremony. The most
important thing for the host to do for the guests, is to create an atmosphere of
tranquility and calm.
Initially the host will greet the waiting guests, by serving them some traditional
Japanese sweets.

The host will then bring in the tea and tea utensils to be used in preparing the tea
(there are many unique utensils used only in performing the Japanese tea ceremony).

The host will then tell the guests to relax, and enjoy their sweets while the tea is
prepared.During this time there are usually no words spoken, and the guest can
observe the host preparing the tea.

Once the matcha green tea has been prepared, it is served to the guest.The host will
ask the guest 'How do you like the tea?', to which the guest replies saying 'It is very
delcious'.

After all the guests have enjoyed and finished drinking the tea, the host cleans all the
utensils and then invites the guests to hold and look at them.

Each utensil including the tea container, the tea scoop and bowl are handmade by
skilled craftsmen. At this time, the guest can ask the host questions about each utensil
(artist, style etc.).

Finally, the host will take all the utensils and tea out of the tea room and thank the
guests for coming, marking the end of the tea ceremony.

				
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posted:1/19/2011
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