Japanese Tea Ceremony – All about Chanoyu

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Have you heard of the famous japanese tea ceremony? In this article, we will talk about the origin, curiosities, requirements, formalities, house and objects used in the tea ceremony called Chanoyu.

THE tea ceremony Japanese is a traditional activity with influences from the Taoism and Zen Buddhism, in which powdered green tea powder matcha [抹茶] is prepared ceremonially and served to guests in an atmosphere of simplicity and goodwill, surrounded by peace, respect, harmony and purity.

The tea ceremony is known by the name of chanoyu [茶の湯] which literally means “hot water [for] tea”; is also known as chadō or sadō [茶道], which means “the way of tea”.

The History of Tea in Japan

It is not clear when tea was introduced from China into Japan, but it is generally said that Saisumi, who returned from Tang in 805, brought the tea seeds and planted them in Sakamoto, at the foot of Mount Hiei.

In addition, it appears on the dedication table that Kukai was also familiar with tea when he dedicated the book he requested during his stay to Emperor Saga. According to recent research, it is highly possible that it has already been introduced in the Nara era.

There are seven poems that include the story of tea being served in a temple, and it was pointed out that the tradition of tasting tea mainly in temples in Kyoto was inherited during the Heian period. It is believed that the tea introduced in ancient times was the Tencha.

Origin of the tea ceremony in japan

The matcha tasting was introduced in the late 12th century by the monk Eisai. At that time, tea was a precious drink that was also used for medicinal purposes.

The habit of drinking matcha it spread among the priests of the Buddhist Temples and the upper classes. In the 16th century, during the Momoyama period, drinking tea became popular among other groups in Japanese society.

Japanese tea ceremony - all about chanoyu

Sen no Rikyu, considered the Japanese master of the Japan ceremony, established a set of teachings that persist to the present day.

Sen Rikyu he defined four basic principles: harmony (Wa), respect (Kei), purity (Sei) and tranquility (Jyaku) and considered that each ceremony was unique and could not be reproduced.

Tea ceremony requirements and formalities

Performing the tea ceremony correctly is quite difficult. The tea ceremony practitioner needs to have knowledge of traditional arts, architecture, landscape gardening and floral arts.

Including cultivation and varieties of tea, Japanese clothing (kimono), calligraphy, ceramics, etiquette and incense. In addition to the formal procedures of your style inchanoyu. So, studying the tea ceremony practically never ends.

Even to participate as a guest in a formal ceremony you need to know the pre-defined gestures and phrases, the proper way to behave in the tea room, and how to help yourself to tea and sweets.

The formalities associated with this ceremony reveal the complexity of the postures to be adopted in Japanese society.

Japanese tea ceremony - all about chanoyu

Tea ceremonies can take on a simpler character (chakai - “tea date”) with typical sweets, soft tea (usucha) and an aperitif (tenshin) or one can take on a more formal character (chaji - “tea matters”) ) which can last up to 4 hours and which also includes a traditional meal (Kaiseki) and strong tea (Koicha).

The way in which the tea ceremony takes place varies according to the school to which the host belongs, the occasion and the season. However, there are basic similarities:

Tea house - sukiya and chashitsu

The tea house is called sukiya [数奇屋] and also chashitsu [茶室] which literally means tea room. This house is usually located in a wooded area like a traditional Japanese garden.

The teahouse is usually made up of a preparation room called mizu-ya, a waiting room called yoritsuki and a landscaped path called roji.

The typical characteristics of chashitsu are shoji sliding windows and doors made of wooden structure covered with Japanese translucent paper, tatamis, one tokonoma, and has simple, soft and stylish colors. The ideal size of a floor chashitsu is 4.5 tatami mats.

Japanese tea ceremony - all about chanoyu

Utensils used in the tea ceremony

The utensils of the ceremony are called dōgu [道具] which literally means “tools”. The amount of dōgu needed in a ceremony varies depending on the school and the style of the demonstration.

Its variety, specific names and combinations of use make it impossible to create a list of all the utensils used in tea ceremonies. There are even specific dictionaries that span hundreds of pages.

Below is a simplified list of some of the essential items used in a tea ceremony:

  • Fukusa (silk scarf)
  • Chawan (cup)
  • Natsume or Cha-ire (jar for powdered tea)
  • Chasen (whisk to prepare tea)
  • Chashaku (spatula for serving powdered tea)
  • Chakin (cloth to clean the bowl)
  • Hishaku (bamboo shell)
  • Kensui (container for dirty water)
  • Tana (small shelf for placing utensils)
  • Kama (iron pot)
  • Hole (brazier)
Japanese tea ceremony - all about chanoyu

The tea ceremony - Chanoyu or chado

The ceremony lasts about 4 hours, men and women wear clothes of discreet colors and all movements have a meaning. When serving the first cup of tea to the guest, the cup design must face you.

On the most formal occasions, men dress kimono silk with three or five family crests and traditional white Japanese stockings called tabi. Guests should have a folding fan and a cushion of small paper napkins called kaishi.

Despite the variations in the tea ceremony, there is a common principle: the simplicity and elegance of the gestures.

When moving around the environment, you cannot step on or support objects on the black lines of the floor. The rule is that the main guest is in front of the host and must kneel exactly on the sixteenth track.

You should only take the chawan (ceramic bowl) after bending down in thanks to whoever served it. Nothing is said during the entire ritual. It is a moment of meditation and absolute silence.

Japanese tea ceremony - all about chanoyu

Tea Ceremony in Brazil

It is possible to participate in a tea ceremony outside of Japan. In Brazil, some Japanese communities hold this event or even teach new people everything necessary to participate in a tea ceremony.

We recommend doing a search on the websites of Chadourasenke It’s from Bunkyo you will find lots of information about events and achievements of the tea ceremony. Even courses and teachings can be acquired in this community.

There are also sites in Brazilian English totally focused on the tea ceremony. If you live in São Paulo, you might want to visit Brazil's Chado Urasenke Center in the Bunkyo building in Liberdade.

Japanese Tea Types

See below the 3 main types of teas used in the tea ceremony in Japan:

Matcha [抹茶] - Powdered or ground green tea, used in tea ceremonies and also to flavor and color sweets and some Japanese foods.

  • Usucha [薄茶] - Matcha weak;
  • KoiCha [濃茶] - Koicha is a dense and strong mixture of matcha;

We recommend reading our article: 15 Types of Japanese Tea

Japanese tea ceremony - all about chanoyu
Other types of green tea!

Tea Ceremony Utensils and Products

Below we will share a list of products from Amazon Brazil that have some relationship with tea:

Videos about the tea ceremony in Japan

To understand more about the tea ceremony, we will leave some videos below to close the article. I hope you enjoyed the article. If you liked it, share and leave your comments. Hugs!

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