It is assumed that tea in Japan spread in the 7th-8th centuries thanks to Buddhist monks who began to carry tea from the mainland.
The emergence of the Japanese tea ceremony.
For the monks, tea had a special meaning – it was taken before meditation and various religious rituals. When Buddhism became the main religion in Japan, it began to have a huge impact on the culture of Japan and the lives of people, the traditions of the tea ceremony passed to the masses. In the 7th century, the monk Eisai, having interested the shogun Minamo no Sanetomo in a book about the benefits of tea, spread the tea ceremony among the members of the imperial court. By the 8th century, the samurai class could not be imagined without drinking tea. Moreover, tea competitions were organized, where the competitors had to determine the taste of tea, the type of tea and the place where it was grown. Among the commoners, tea also found acceptance, but it was much more modest and poorer in comparison with the reception of tea from the aristocrats and looked like a leisurely conversation over a cup of tea gathered relatives and friends.
The art of wabi.
Japanese monks have created their own unique ritual of tea drinking. It was invented by the monk Dae (1236-1308). Other monks who became the first masters of the tea tradition were trained by Dae. A century later, the abbot of the Daitokuji monastery, Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481), taught Murata Juko (Shuko), who made a real art out of the tea tradition.
Murata was an adherent of the idea of “wabi”, which was based on simplicity and naturalness, and in some ways different from the rich and luxurious “tea tournaments” of the samurai class. Muratu combined the four main principles of the tea ceremony: harmony (“wa”), reverence (“kei”), purity (“sei”) and silence, serenity (“seki”). The subsequent improvement of the tea ceremony was carried out by Joo Takeno (1502-1555). He was the first to hold tea parties in special teahouses of tyasitsu, built in accordance with the idea of “wabi”, in the image of a peasant house with a thatched roof. He also began to use ceramic cups.
The ideology of the sabi ritual tea party.
Murata’s disciple, the famous Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591), perfected the tea house and invented the tradition of making a garden (chaniwa) and laying out stone paths (roji) that cross the garden and lead to chashitsu. Sen no Rikyu introduced many innovations that determined the order of the ceremony and even the content of the conversations at the table, the task of which was to follow the “sabi” – the ideology of refinement, beauty and the pursuit of truth. An environment was created that demonstrated the secret beauty contained in ordinary things. By the 16th century, the tea ceremony had evolved from a joint consumption of tea into a small performance, which was a kind of spiritual practice in which every little thing, every thing, every step acquired a special, ritual meaning. The Japanese claim that ” the tea ceremony is the art of expressing the beauty of Emptiness and the goodness of Peace.”
Garden of tyaniv.
But the traditions of the Seng no Rikyu tea ceremony did not match the preferences of his overlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who loved luxurious, chic receptions and expensive tea utensils and decoration (for him, a special tea room was built, decorated with gold foil with dishes made of gold – ogon chashitsu). In 1591, Sen no Rikyu, obeying Toyotomi’s orders, committed seppuku. However, the tea ceremony was still formed in accordance with the views of Seng no Rikyu, and the main theme of the tea ceremony was the Senke school he created.
Chashitsu tea house.
Tea ceremony of the 19th century.
Gradually, the tea ceremony embraced all layers of Japanese society. Many tea schools were formed, which were descended from Senke. He managed the school and took exams from masters who were trained in the subtleties of this art, iemoto. The main purpose of iemoto was to preserve the immutability of the custom of the tea ceremony.