JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY
The article deals with the Japanese tea ceremony, known as chanoyu (literally “hot water for tea”) or sadō (literally “the way of tea”). The ceremony, celebrated for over fi ve hundred years, has infl uenced spirituality, mentality and lifestyles of the inhabitants of the “Land of the Rising Sun”. The uniqueness of the ceremony is descended from strong connections with Zen Buddhism. It is corroborated by the popular Japanese phrase: “tea and Zen are one”.
In the 12th century AD the Buddhist monk Myōan Eisai (1141–1215) returning from China, brought seeds of tea and started to cultivate them. Hereby the fi rst tea plantation came into being. The foundations of the tea ceremony were laid in the 13th century AD. Since then, the ritual has been modifi ed and improved by tea masters called chajin. One of them, perhaps the best known and arousing the greatest admiration, Sen no Rikyu (1522–1591) created four pillars of the specifi c etiquette – wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (purity), jaku (tranquility). He referred thereby to Zen philosophy and set up canons that are still being used. The principles have had impact on architecture, painting and gardening as well.
Due to the complexity of the Japanese tea ceremony, a tea practitioner must be familiar not only with the production and types of tea, but also with fl ower arranging, ceramics and calligraphy. Learning the rules of the tea ceremony takes many years. Therefore, entrants attend to schools, where they can explore secrets of the ceremony. The best known schools, not only in Japan, but also all over the world, are, inter alia, Ura Senke and Omote Senke. Also guests taking part in the Japanese tea ceremony have to obey its rules. They ought to be familiar with the proper way of behavior, such as gestures, phrases and the way of drinking tea or eating sweets.
The Japanese tea ceremony is remarkable for its tradition, variety of forms, interweaving religious and aesthetic canons. Because of a unique atmosphere and interior décor, it is also an unusual and amazing experience. According to Zen Buddhism, each meeting should be treasured since it can never be reproduced.