ceremony is a very special event in Japanese culture. The
host spends days going over every detail to make sure that
the ceremony will be perfect. There are various styles of
tea ceremonies and it is recognized that every human
encounter is a singular occasion that will never recur again
in exactly the same way, and so every aspect of the tea
ceremony is savored. The ceremony takes place in a room
called the chashitsu.
This room is designed and designated only for this ceremony.
The room is usually within a teahouse, and is located away
from the residence in the garden.
guests arrive (usually four), they are led into a waiting
room (machiai) by the host's assistant (the hanto). The
hanto offers the guests sayu (hot water that is used in
making tea). While in the machiai, the guests choose one
person to act as the main guest. The guests are then lead by
the hanto into a garden that is sprinkled with water. This
area is called roji or dew ground. No flowers grow here. It
is in this garden that the guests are to remove the dust of
the world. They sit on the koshikake machiai (waiting bench)
and wait for the host (teishu).
receiving guests, the teishu fills a stone basin (tsukubai)
with fresh water and then purifies his hands and mouth. He
proceeds through the middle gate (chumon) to receive his
guests. The guests are welcomed only with a bow. No words
are spoken. The teishu leads the assistant host, the main
guest and then the guests, in that order, through the chumon.
The chumon signifies the door between the harsh physical
world and the spiritual world that is symbolized by tea. At
the stone basin, the guests and host's assistant purify
themselves and enter the teahouse through a sliding door
that is just three feet high. To enter everyone has to bow,
and this signifies that all are equal regardless of status
or social position. The last person to enter puts the latch
on the door.
Inside the Teahouse
no decorations in the teahouse except for an alcove called a
tokonoma, in which a scroll painting (kakemono) is hung.
This hanging is carefully chosen by the host and reveals the
theme of the tea ceremony. In turn, each guest admires the
scroll, the kettle (kama) and the hearth. Guests are seated
according to their respective positions in the ceremony.
Once the host seats himself, greetings are exchanged between
the host and the main guest, and then the other guests.
In the tea
ceremony, water represents yin. The fire in the hearth
represents yang. A stoneware jar called the mizusashi holds
fresh water and symbolizes purity and only the host touches
it. The green tea called matcha is kept in a small ceramic
container called a chaire
that is covered in a fine silk pouch (shifuku)
and is set in front of the mizusashi.
If tea is
served during the day a gong sounds, or if it is evening a
bell tolls five to seven times to summon the guests back to
the teahouse. Everyone purifies their hands and mouths once
again, and then re-enters the teahouse to admire the
flowers, kettle and hearth before seating themselves.
enters carrying the tea bowl (chawan) that holds the tea
whisk (chasen), the tea cloth (chakin) and the tea scoop (chashaku).
The tea bowl represents the moon (yin) and is placed next to
the water jar, which represents the sun (yang). The host
goes to the preparation room, and returns with the waste
water bowl (kensui), the bamboo water ladle (hishaku) and a
green bamboo rest called a futaoki for the kettle lid.
purifies the tea container and tea scoop with a fine silk
cloth (fukusa). He
fills the tea bowl with hot water and rinses the whisk. He
then empties the tea bowl and wipes it with a tea towel
called a chakin. At this point the host lifts the tea scoop
and tea container and places three scoops of tea per guest
into the tea bowl. He ladles enough hot water from the
kettle into the tea bowl and uses the whisk to make a thin
paste. Additional water is added to the paste until it is
the consistency of cream soup, returning any unused water to
the kettle. The host passes the tea bowl to the main guest
first who bows and accepts it. The main guest admires the
bowl by raising and rotating it. He then drinks some of the
tea, wipes the rim of the bowl, and passes it to the next
guest who does the same thing.
the guests have tasted the tea, the bowl is returned to the
host who rinses it, and cleans the tea scoop and tea
container. The host offers the cleaned tea scoop and tea
container to the guests for examination. Afterwards the
group engages in conversation about the objects used in the
tea ceremony and the presentation that took place.