Japanese tea room

Japanese tea room

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Japanese tea room

Japan is a small country, however most people know this country. One of the reason is that the manufacturing industry is world-famous. Especially, cars and appliances which are small, functional and also economical. And these products show exactly Japanese spirit which can say Japanese culture. When we discuss about Japan, we can't forget considering traditional Japanese culture. I will discus about the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu), which one of the most important Japanese culture.

The tea ceremony began to reach maturity in the early Muromachi period when the shogun and select menders of his aesthetic circle met to admire choice Chinese tea wares and game at guessing the provenance of various types of tea. But its transformation into a true art form with spiritual dimensions is due to the influence of three men. The fist was Murata Juko, a student of Zen and curator of Chinese art for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. He and Yoshimasa would meet at the latter 's silver Pavilion and drink tea in Chinese utensils in the Dojinsai room of the Togudo. Tea, and especially the collectiing of utensils, was also popular among the wealthy merchants of Sakai City (Osaka). One of these merchants, Takeno Joo, took his interest in tea far beyond acquisition into the influence of Juko 's thought, did much to develop the wabi ideal of refined rusticity that became one of the central elements of tea taste.

Wabi tea reached its mature expression under the third of these great tea masters, Sen no Rikyu. There is a story of Rikyu, which well illustrates the ideas of cleanliness entertained by the tea-masters. Rikyu was watching his son Sho-an as he swept and watered the garden path. "Not clean enough," said Rikyu, when Sho-an had finished his task, and bade him try again. After a weary hour the son turned to Rikyu: "Father, there is nothing more to be done. The steps have been washed for the third time, the stone lanterns and the trees are well sprinkled with water, moss and lichens are shining with a fresh verdure; not a twig, not a leaf have I left on the ground." "Young fool," chided the tea master, " that is not the way a garden path should be swept." Saying this, Rikyu stepped into the garden, shook a tree and scattered over the garden gold and crimson leaves, scraps of the brocade of autumn! What Rikyu demanded was not cleanliness alone, but the beautiful and the natural also.

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I believe that our feelings through this story is the most effective to understand wabi sabi. Rikyu continued the trend toward simplicity and naturalness, often incorporating folk objects into his tea ceremonies, and the first independent tearoom was the creation of Rikyu. (Fig1) The tea- room consist of, designed to accommodate not more than five persons, an anteroom (mizuya) where the tea-utensils are washed and arranged before being brought in, a portico (machiai)in which the quests wait until they receive the summons to enter the tea-room, and garden path(the roji) which connects the matiai with the tea-room. Each element is necessary and meaningful as an entertainment, as the place we can meditate. For example, The roji was intended to break connection with the outside world, and to produce a fresh sensation conducive to the full enjoyment of aestheticism in the tearoom itself. The nature of the sensations to be aroused in passing through the roji differed with different tea-masters. Rikyu aimed at utter loneliness. Thus prepared the guest will silently approach the sanctuary, and, if a samurai, will leave his sword on the rack beneath the eaves, the tearoom being preeminently the house of peace. Then he will bend low and creep into the room through a small door not more than three feet in height.
This proceeding was incumbent on all guests,--high and low alike,--and was intended to inculcate humility. Thus the tearoom reflects many of the Zen doctrines, and all great tea-masters attempted to introduce the spirit of Zionism into the actualities of life.

The size of the orthodox tearoom is four mats and a half, or ten feet square. But Rikyu shrank the size of the tearoom from the four and half mats down to two mats in some of his designs. This type of extremely small and rustic teahouse is known as a soan. Despite the central role Rikyu played in the development of soan tea, the design of only one of the extant soan teahouse can be even tentatively ascribed to his hand. That is the Taian. (fig.2) The Taian located in the town of Yamazaki, south of kyoto, the Taian is part of the Myokian temple. Though the provenance of the teahouse is unverified, it seems likely that Rikyu originally built it in his own house in Yamazaki and that it was later transferred to the Myokian. He probably prepared tea for Hideyoshi there, which gave rise to the belief that Hideyoshi had ordered Rikyu to build it in 1582 while he was enganed in battle nearby with Akechi Mitsuhide. The Taian consists of a two-mat tearoom next to a one-mat anteroom bordered with a wood-floor section. North of the anteroom is a one-mat space called the katte, where preparations are made for the ceremony. The screens that normally separate the rooms have been removed in the figure for clarity. In the tearoom proper the west mat has a hearth cut into one corner, where the water for the tea is boiled. The other mat to the east is for the guests. This extremely small size is visually mitigated somewhat by the decorative alcove area, and the anteroom can also be used when a larger number of guests are present. The design of the Taian soan has been worked out in great detail. Even the ceiling is of a complex construction. The sections directly in front of the decorative alcove and over the server'' mat are flat and consist of thin shingles reinforced beneath by light-colored bamboo. But the part above the guests'mat is inclined, and this again helps mitigate the feeling of constriction such a small space might otherwise generate. The decorative alcove is a so-called murodoko, as its rear posts have been plastered over. That is true also of the post in the corner behind the hearth. The technique is yet another way of lending a more expansive feeling to the space and of making the design more arresting.
Every aspect of the Taian reflects rusticity and yet refinement, revealing a calculated use of natural materials for their inherent decorative qualities. The lattices of the shoji windows, for example, are made not of wood but of split bamboo. The delicate paper is protected on the exterior either by vertical bamboo grills or by the wattle of the wall interior, left exposed for its rustic visual effect. Windows of the latter type are called *censored*ajimado. The positions of the windows have been carefully calculated, as has the height of the transom of the decorative alcove and the alcove's ceiling. The baseboard of the decorative alcove was chosen for its three knots, which again enhances the rusticity of the space.

Thus Japanese have tendency to see aesthetic in the contradictions and opposites. And size is the most obvious case in point. There is the great Buddha Hall of Todaiji temple, the largest wooden structure on earth. Nearly fifty meters in height. But also there is tearoom of Rikyu's favorite,which the smallest space on earth in Japan.
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