Japanese Tea Ceremony

Brief Overview of Japanese Tea Ceremony

Japanese Art Through Preparation and Serving of Japanese Green Tea "Maccha"
Japanese Tea Ceremony (also known as chado or sado) is the act of a ritual preparing and serving tea for guests. Formally, it was called as 'chato' (literally, hot water tea) or 'chanoyu' (literally, hot water for the tea). SEN no Rikyu called it 'Suki no michi' (the way of enjoying elegance), 'Cha no michi' (the art of Tea) by Enshu KOBORI, and it was eventually called sado (japanese tea Ceremony) by the beginning of the Edo period (according to "Sawa Shigetsu shu" (a collection of GENPAKU Sotan's talks about tea) and "Nanporoku" (Southern Record)).

It is considered to be a generalized art form that practices not only serving and drinking tea, but deals with the purpose of living, the way of thinking, religion, art of tea tools and art works placed in the tea room.

Currently, Japanese Tea Ceremony has the forerunning macchado (art of maccha (green powdered tea) ceremony) and the later senchado (art of sencha (simmered tea) ceremony), and it refers to the former if one mentions just about Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Various Practices of Japanese Tea Ceremony
The purpose of Japanese Tea Ceremony is to entertain guest with tea, and there were various forms to achieve this. It is a simple everyday event to entertain guest with Usucha (thin maccha) using a pot and a tea tray for a person who practices Japanese Tea Ceremony, but more ceremonial forms of entertaining guests were the Chaji (tea function) and Oyose Chakai (tea party of the masses).

Chaji is a form of tea party that individuals perform for a small number of designated guests, and the host decorates the tea room with flowers and a hanging scroll, and entertains the guest with charcoal temae, kaiseki (meal served in the tea ceremony), and koicha (thick tea) or usucha. The maximum number of guests are five and requires three to five hours. The most common form is the afternoon chaji which incorporated kaiseki for lunch, but depending upon the mood, chaji is performed in the morning or evening, and also after meal times (called after meal tea function). The meal is very simple or simplified. Depending upon the occasion, chaji is performed in the form of nodate (outdoor tea making) which uses the outdoors in place of the tea room and ryurei (table seated style) which uses tables and chairs.

Oyose chakai is tea ceremony that serves many guests. Charcoal temae and kaiseki is usually simplified, and often the examination of utensils are abbreviated as well. It requires about an hour per ceremony, and is performed in several tea rooms arranged side by side.

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History of Japanese Tea Ceremony

Overview of The History of Japanese Tea Ceremony
What is considered to be the leader of tea is "Cha Jing" (The Classics of Tea) written by Lu Yu of Tang China (unknown - 804). He wrote in detail about the tea production process, drinking methods, and history and could be said that this is the bible of tea.

The tea drinking custom and production techniques were brought by envoys to Tang China during the Heian period. The tea at that time was semi-fermented tea resembling current oolong tea and it was brewed in just the right amount and drunk. However, it was not popular at that time and tea drinking customs disappeared.

Maccha, brought by Eisai, who spread the Zen sect of Buddhism, and Dogen, who brought it as a medicine, spread along with Zen during the Kamakura period and increased the concept of spiritual training. In addition, as the tea cultivation became popular, tea drinking practices spread amongst the public.

During the Muromachi period, there was a gambling game called Tocha (tea competition), where participants were made to guess the tea brand and place of production developed from the game Tosui (water competition). In addition, genuine Chinese tea utensils called 'karamono' (things imported from China) were praised at that time, and it became popular among daimyo (feudal lords) to collect them in quantity and hold tea parties using these (this was called 'karamono suki' (the taste for karamono)). On the other hand, Juko MURATA forbid gambling and alcohol drinking at tea parties, and lectured on the importance of spiritual relationships between the host and the guest. This developed into the origin of wabicha (wabi style of tea ceremony).

Wabicha was fully developed by Shoo TAKENO, who was one of the merchant class members in Sakai city, and his pupil, Rikyu SEN in Azuchi-Momoyama Period. The wabicha of Rikyu spread even to the samurai class, and created pupils called Rikyushichitetsu (Rikyu's Seven Adepts), which consisted of Ujisato GAMO, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, Hyobu MAKIMURA, Kamon SETA, Shigenari (Shigeteru) FURUTA, Kenmotsu SHIBAYAMA, and Ukon TAKAYAMA. In addition, daimyos appeared, such as Masaichi KOBORI, Sadamasa KATAGIRI, and Nagamasu ODA, who created their own schools developed from wabicha. Currently, it is distinguished by often referring to it as the buke sado (buke sado (the tea ceremony of samurai family) or daimyo cha (the tea of the daimyo).

The population of those who practiced chanoyu in the beginning of the Edo period was limited to mainly daimyo and rich merchants, but increased dramatically as the merchant class prospered economically in the mid-Edo period. The school of the Senke (House of Sen) that originated from Edo period towns, centered around the Sansenke (three houses of tea ceremony (Omotesenke (the house of Omotesen), Ura-Senke (the house of Urasen) and Mushanokojisenke (the house of Mushanokojisen))), was the school that invited the new chanoyu participants mainly consisting of town class people. The formation of the head-master system commonly seen in a current traditional performing arts, developed in order to organize massive numbers of disciples. In addition, Shichijishiki (the seven virtues style ceremony) was designed by Nyoshinsai of the seventh head of Omotesenke, Yugensai of the eighth Ura-Senke, and Fuhaku KAWAKAMI of the founder of Edosenke (the house of Edosen) as the new practice method to handle large numbers of disciples. These efforts made chanoyu lessons for the village headman, headman and merchants, and became popular across Japan. However, it triggered the large scale chanoyu and developed into the bad game influence. The understanding of 'wabi (taste for the simple and quiet) or sabi (quiet simplicity)' gradually changed, behavior, like breaking a beautiful stone lantern for being 'too perfect,' treasuring a tea bowl that was repaired after being cracked, became incomprehensible for the masses that it made locals to call 'chajin' (a man of tea) as 'henjin' (abnormal man) (it had a close resemblance to extreme Zen and excessive spiritualism and was a behavior far removed from the original Japanese Tea Ceremony).

On the other hand, it began to stress the original purpose of Japanese Tea Ceremony, 'the beauty of the mind that appears when entertaining a guest' in response to the inclination of it becoming a form of entertainment in districts. The Rinzai Sect temples of the Daitokuji School greatly contributed to this, and 'wakei seijaku' (harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility), the motto that was considered to be fundamental to Japanese Tea Ceremony of the Rikyu School was created in this process. Furthermore, Naosuke II completed the general concept of 'Ichigo Ichie' (Treasure every meeting, for it will never recur) in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The current chanoyu called 'sado' was completed by reexamining the structure of temae (a formalized chano yu procedure) of each school, adding the ritualization structure of tea parties ('one of the basic mannerism is to wear full dress at weddings'), and reexamining the original idea of Japanese Tea Ceremony, 'the essence of hosting a guest is (the guest cannot be truly entertained if the person does not take a full consideration of daily conduct and be aware of the essence at the bottom of one's heart). '

When the end of the Edo period came, people of the town, who despised the strict form of chanoyu using maccha for the education of samurai families, demanded tea which could be enjoyed lightheartedly. In the same period, people became anxious about the status of sencha which became just a drink for pleasure and voiced to say that there should be an 'art' for sencha. The Senchado was developed by redefining the way of sencha in response to the voices of the people and followed the way of sencha performed by the Baisao of the former monk of Manpuku-ji Temple of Obaku Sect during the mid-Edo period. Senchado spread among men of culture and began to be established. The names of famous people who favored sencha were Jozan ISHIKAWA, who was a famous person in the early Edo period, Akinari UEDA during the mid-Edo period, and Sanyo RAI of the late Edo period.

The feudal system collapsed at the beginning of the Meiji period, and each school protected by a clan became financially unstable. In midst of it, Tecchu ENNOSAI of the thirteenth Ura-Senke resided temporarily in Tokyo to perform the revival of Japanese Tea Ceremony. It was worth his effort for he succeeded in grabbing the attention of influential businessmen to incorporate Japanese Tea Ceremony as required education for girls. As a result, Japanese Tea Ceremony gained the aspect of 'cultural need of girls' separate from the original wabicha, and it has now become the norm to have a fancy tea party wearing a beautiful kimono. Japanese Tea Ceremony spread even around the world after World War II, and the popularization of Japanese Tea Ceremony achieved world level recognition.

Tenshin OKAKURA, who worked in the China-Japan Department, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, published and introduced "The Book of Tea" (Japanese title was "Cha no Hon") in 1906. This publication brought the attention of European and Americans, and it became common to call 'sado' as 'tea ceremony' in English. (It was interesting that Okakura mentioned in 'Cha no Hon' that the experience that closely resembled 'sado' for European and Americans was the 'consideration of the host during a tea party' and was the 'essence of Japanese Tea Ceremony apart from tea. ')

The influence that Okakura brought to Japanese Tea Ceremony was great, and chanoyu changed its name to Japanese Tea Ceremony in public after the introduction of Okakura.

The conduct of Japanese Tea Ceremony started to incorporate Chinese tea (art of tea) at the beginning of 1980's.

The current 'folding chakin' conduct in Chinese tea showed the influence from Japanese sado.

Jaqpanese Tea Ceremony of Geisha in Meiji Period
Jaqpanese Tea Ceremony of Geisha in Meiji Period

Chashitsu (Tea Ceremony Room)

Overview of Chashitsu (Tea Ceremony Room)
"Chashitsu" is a facility built for a tea ceremony host (shujin) to invite and entertain guests with tea. Chashitsu used to be built in a Japanese garden usually with a pathway to it, but today they are built in various places: at hotels, in civic halls, and at the corner of some commercial buildings.

Although Japanese rooms (tatami-matted rooms) that are installed with a built-in hearth to learn or enjoy the tea ceremony are often called Chashitsu, this section describes mainly soan-style (small grass-thatched hut) teahouses with four-and-a-half mats or less.

Soan-style Chashitsu
Soan-style Chashitsu were built of simple materials (logs, bamboo, clay) as used in rural private homes. Light from the engawa (veranda) is shielded by a plastered clay wall in which windows are set to enable artistic control of the light, such as shitaji mado, or a window in which the inner structure of the plaster wall is shown; renji mado, or a window with a lattice; tsukiage mado, or a skylight window in the ceiling that can be opened by a stick. The tokonoma (alcove) used to be one ken (1. 8 meters), but now varies in size around four or five shaku (1. 2 or 1. 5 meters), depending on the room structure, and its design also varies widely, and may include 'muro-doko' (a tokonoma plastered all over including the ceiling), 'hora-doko' (a cave-like tokonoma), 'kabe-doko' (tokonoma formed by only a wall), or 'fumikomi-doko' (a 'step-in' tokonoma). Nakabashira, or a small pillar standing inside the room, makes a boundary between the host's seat and the guests' seats. This setting helps to produce a spiritually rich space between the host and the guests.

Chashitsu Before The Appearance of Rikyu
Togudo in Jisho-ji Temple in the Higashiyama area, built by Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, has a four-and-a-half tatami-mat room, which is said to be the origin of the tea ceremony room. Later, Juko MURATA created a four-and-a-half mat tea ceremony room as a small grass-thatched hut in the city.

Chashitsu of SEN no Rikyu
SEN no Rikyu established a unique form of Chashitsu. Rikyu pursued the spirit of Wabi-cha (the combination of Zen Buddhism and the way of drinking tea), and adopted koma (small tea rooms) of two mats or three mats that had only been used by Wabi-cha masters who owned no valuable tea utensils, and he finally created a two-mat tea room with a nijiriguchi (a cram-through doorway).

Chashitsu Taian (a National Treasure), which is said to have been created by SEN no Rikyu, expresses the spirit of Wabi-cha.

Rikyu is said to have created nijiriguchi inspired by seeing how a fisherman entered a boathouse on the riverfront at the Yodo-gawa River in Kawachi Hirakata. However, doorways that can be considered prototypes of nijiriguchi appear on old drawings of the time of Joo TAKENO, and many similar designs such as a tiny door built in a large door in merchant houses existed previously, so it was not Rikyu's invention.

Rikyu also built a golden tea room to Hideyoshi's orders. It could be disassembled and moved to different places. Although this golden tea room has been criticized as an example of Hideyoshi's vulgar taste, it was a small room of three mats following the rule of the soan-type and had some sophisticated elements. One view is that this golden tea room was one of the aspects of Rikyu's form of tea philosophy.

Developments of Chashitsu After Rikyu
Shigenari FURUTA and Enshu KOBORI also created Chashitsu of their own type. Being a small space, Chashitsu can have a variety of designs, and a number of types of them were built. Rikyu's grandson Sotan explored Wabi to the extreme, and created the smallest Chashitsu called "Ichijo-Daime" with one guest mat and a short mat for the host, which Rikyu had once tried to make but given up. Compared with this, Oribe FURUTA, Enshu KOBORI, Urakusai ODA, and Sowa KANAMORI, who were feudal lords and tea masters, created samurai class shoin-style Chashitsu, or comfortable Chashitsu with a small room as large as three mats. Each generation of the SEN family has preferred a new type of Chashitsu, but not to the extent of Wabi that Sotan sought.

Since Chashitsu are small, they can relatively easily be disassembled and rebuilt at a different place. In fact, Joan (a tea house, and a National Treasure) was moved from Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto City to the MITSUI family in Tokyo, and then their villa in Oiso-machi, and finally rebuilt at Meitetsu Urakuen in Inuyama City. Chashitsu are often built in imitation of a highly valued Chashitsu, a practice which is called 'utsushi,' or imitation.

Characteristics of Chashitsu
If a Chashitsu stood alone in an open space, it would look bleak. It is important to entertain guests in the space filled by the pathway that leads to Chashitsu.

Guests are not introduced directly to Chashitsu, but are first ushered to a yoritsuki (a waiting shelter of the outer garden) or a zashiki (a reception room with tatami mats). They step into the garden and walk through a small gate. Stepping stones are laid out along the garden path to the Chashitsu, and the guests notice that the host has cared to water the path. There is machiai (a waiting area in the inner garden) on the pathway, with seats where the guests wait for the host for a while. The host then comes out to welcome the guests into the Chashitsu. The guests do "chozu", or ritually purify themselves by pouring some water over their hands using a tsukubai (a tiny purifying basin) in front of the Chashitsu. The guests enter the Chashitsu through the nijiriguchi with heads down. As they go through the nijiriguchi, they first see the Tokonoma. A kakejiku (hanging scroll) and flowers representing the season are arranged on the tokonoma which is illuminated by light from a bokuseki-mado (a window on the side wall of the alcove used to provide light). The main guest usually sits in front of the tokonoma or on a kamiza (a mat placed at the highest ranked position). The host sits on a temaeza (a tea host's mat), before which a furo (a portable brazier) is placed in summer, and a hearth is built in winter. Close to the furo, there is a shitajimado to light the host's hands. All the guests are seated when the host comes in at the katteguchi (a side door, or the host's entrance)The ceiling is low and minimum light comes in from the windows, which helps the host and guests focus on the tea ceremony. Following kaiseki (a light meal), the guests retire to the garden for a short break before returning to the Chashitsu to drink koicha (a strong green tea) and then usucha (a weak green tea), with each guest taking a drink from the bowl before it is passed on to the next guest; the guests then leave, quietly acknowledging each other one last time.

Because guests have to lower their heads to go through the nijiriguchi, a kijinguchi (an ordinary walk-in paper sliding door) is often built in addition to the nijiriguchi to welcome high ranking people. In addition to a katteguchi, a kyujiguchi is sometimes built to bring in meals.

They represent a unique field of study within Japanese architecture, because Chashitsu provide a rich spiritual space in minimum physical space. It had an influence on residential architecture, and led to so called sukiya-zukuri style architecture (a residence style influenced by teahouse architecture)

Chasitsu Tea Ceremony Room in Kodaijingu Shrine
Chasitsu Tea Ceremony Room in Kodaijingu Shrine

Roji (Tea Garden)

Overview of Roji (The Garden and Pathway Outside a Tea Ceremony Room)
Roji is also called Chatei and is the common name of a garden attached to a tea-ceremony room.

Roji was originally written as "路地," but the name of '露地' (Roji) appeared in "Nanporoku," a tea book, and so on in the Edo period. This is the word appeared in 'Hiyuhon' (the third chapter) of "Lotus Sutra," which suggests the situation that the tea ceremony of that time aimed at theorization using the Buddhism. It was distributed by the masters of tea ceremony and others in the position to emphasize the Zen sect after that, and today it has been established as the elegant name of a tea garden.

Origin and developmentIt is said that those simple gardens attached to tea rooms were developed in urban Machiya (a traditional form of townhouse found mainly in Kyoto) (mercantile house) with limited premises, not in temples or others with broad premises. Most of Maguchi (the length of the front facade of a building or frontage of a plot of land from corner to corner) in such Machiya were used by shops, and thereby a long and narrow garden called Toriniwa (unfloored walkway) was developed and then 'Roji,' a passage leading to the tea room was separately created. A diagram of the four-and-a-half-mat tea room of Joo TAKENO's residence in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, inserted in "Yamanoue Soji ki" (The Record of Soji YAMANOUE), which reveals that this tea room had a dedicated passage called 'Waki no Tsubonouchi' (side passage garden) and a dedicated garden called 'Omote no Tsubonouchi' (front passage garden). Steppingstones are described in a diagram of the tea room established by Shoei MATSUYA, Nurishi (a maker of lacquer ware and handiworks) in Nara, around the same time, and 'Shogi' (camp stool, folding stool), allegedly a prototype of Machiai (tea house to lend seats and tables, or rooms), is also written ("Matsuya's Secret Writings on Tea Ceremony. ")

Construction of tea rooms further flourished in the period of SEN no Rikyu, and all the Sukisha (zen philosopher) of that time exhibited their originality and ingenuity for construction, and so-called Rikyu-style tea rooms were also matured under such circumstances. SEN no Rikyu completed thatched style (country-like) tea in his last years, with pastoral and mountainous sentiment as the subject of expression, in which a tea room would express a farmer's straw-thatched house and a tea garden, a taste of the road to a mountain temple.

Moreover, the material is not sufficient for the origin of Nijiriguchi (crawling entrance), and there is no concrete grounds in the widespread assertion that it was created by Rikyu. However, this Nijiriguchi consequently removed the veranda (a narrow wooden passageway along the edge of a house facing the garden) used as Machiai at Nakadachi (break between the light meal and the actual serving of tea), and Koshikake-Machiai (a simple styled bench for guests to wait for a tea ceremony) was separately set. Furthermore, it is considered that Tsukubai (stone washbasin) was completed also in this period, which replaced Chozubachi (a basin for water to purify before entering shrine).

Anything artificial was avoided in Roji without planting any tree existed in village or town and only the steppingstones and Chozubachi configured the framework of the garden to convey a taste of mountains as natural as possible. Later Ishi-doro (stone lantern) was installed as a light for evening tea parties, the existing Chozubachi and Toro (a garden lantern) used for gardens were preferred to the new creation, and bridge piers, gravestones, and others that no longer needed due to abolition or improvement were reused by the masters of tea ceremony, which were introduced as an important view in the garden. Such configuration of tea rooms was also incorporated in temples and samurai residences with huge premises, and the Chatei stylized as in the current tea ceremony is equipped with Nakakuguri (a type of middle gate used to divide an outer tea garden from an inner tea garden), Koshikake-Machiai, and Tsukubai.

Chanoyu (tea ceremony) and Chatei were nurtured by town people as this, but its content considerably changed when they were under the management of Busho (Japanese military commander), such as Shigenari FURUTA and Masakazu KOBORI who were the disciples of Rikyu and developed Buke sado (tea ceremony of samurai family). Roji became wider partly since they were created in large daimyo gardens (a garden of a feudal lord), in which the changes were added as making a fence or two, and also the visible factors were strengthened. Tsukiyama (small hill) was added in Roji close to Hiraniwa (a flat Japanese garden without hills mainly expressing ocean view), streams and ponds were also created, and additionally Ishi-doro (stone lantern) became an important highlight. There was an aspect that it would touch the tradition of Shinden-zukuri style (architecture representative of a nobleman's residence in the Heian period) garden and the flow of rock arrangement (in Japanese landscape gardening) in Shoin (reception room) garden, and the garden in Katsura Imperial Villa exists as the example of such gardens.

It is said that the creativity was stronger in tea and garden of Oribe and Enshu than in those of Rikyu, who tried to incorporate even his intention in naturalness, while Oribe's intention was pushed out on the surface in view-emphasized Chatei, where large steppingstones and Tatamiishi stone (tatami rocks) were put, but something unusual custom in the nature was sought. Oribe preferred to use hewn stones, especially large ones for steppingstones while small round stones had been used before hand, and showing his style well in the sharp shape of Oribe Toro, allegedly devised by himself, elaborated of a plan installing this 'Oribe Toro,' with full of his creation in Roji as a basin lamp of Tsukubai. Furthermore, the Oribe Toro is also called 'Kirishitan [Christian] Toro' since the image seems to be that of the Virgin Mary engraved on the pole of this lantern, which lead to the speculation that Oribe was Christian, but there is no proof of the image being Mary and Oribe being Christian.

Enshu KOBORI, a disciple of Oribe, known as the master of landscape gardening, forbade overlapping of the flowers in a tea ceremony and those in the garden as it would spoil the interest, consequently it became a custom in most of the later tea ceremony world.

Roji of Takakura-in Temple in Autumn
Roji of Takakura-in Temple in Autumn

The Three Representative Schools

Omote-Senke School (表千家)

Overview of Omote-Senke School
Omote-Senke is one of the various tea ceremony schools that can be found in Japan. It is the head family of the Senke founded by SEN no Rikyu and, Omote-Senke is one of the San-Senke (literally, "the three Sen houses"), the other two being Ura-Senke and Mushanokoji-Senke. Although the exact number of disciples is unknown, it is considered about one half of that of Ura-Senke.

The present iemoto (head of the school) is Sosa SEN (Jimyosai) who is the fourteenth iemoto from SEN no Rikyu. Over the generations, the iemoto was assigned as the Japanese Tea Ceremony (the head person who handles matters related to the tea ceremony) for the feudal lord of the Kishu Province Kishu-Tokugawa family (one of the three branch families of the house of Tokugawa).

The house of the head of the school is located at Horikawa-dori Street Higashi-iru, Teranouchi, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City. The term 'Omote-Senke' derived from Fushin-an, which the tea-ceremony room symbolizing Omote-Senke, being situated at the front (omote) of the street as compared to Konnichi-an at Ura (back)-senke. At present, Fushin-an is managed by the Fushin-an Foundation.

History of Omote-Senke School
FormationAfter the passing of the tea ceremony giant SEN no Rikyu, the Sen family carried on under Shoan SEN (the second generation) and Sotan SEN (the third generation). Sotan's third son SEN no Sosa inherited Fushin-an as the heir when Sotan retired. Sosa consequently took over the stem family of Senke and Sotan built Konnichi-an as his retirement retreat. After Sotan died, his fourth son Soshitsu SEN took over Konnici-an and left home to start Ura-Senke. Additionally, Sotan's second son Soshu SEN left his adoptive family, returned to the Senke and started another family whereby founding Mushanokoji-Senke. And thus, the three Senke families were born.

In 1642, Sosa KOSHIN (the 4th head of the school) began to work for the Kishu-Tokugawa family recruited by the first domain lord of the Kishu clan Yorinobu TOKUGAWA who was well versed in chanoyu (the tea ceremony). Thereafter, the successive iemoto of Omote-Senke served the Kishu-Tokugawa family as the Japanese Tea Ceremony receiving a stipend of 200 koku, which was equivalent to that for a middle-echelon samurai. Additionally, KOSHIN received a writing of the newly retired Emperor Gosai and the kogo (an incense container) made by Tofukumonin from herself, having close ties with the Imperial Palace and court nobles.

Many of the successive heads of the Kishu-Tokugawa family took interest in the tea ceremony and Kakukakusai (the 6th head of the school) was given a tea bowl (Kuwabara-jawan) by Yoshimune TOKUGAWA who was originally the 4th domain head of the Kishu clan prior to being made the 8th Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"). During the times of the subsequent Ryoryosai (the 9th iemoto), he was under the patronage of Harutomi TOKUGAWA, who was referred to as 'the lord of elegant pursuits' for his love for tasteful elegance. Being so well versed in the tea ceremony, Harutomi was certified as having achieved a full mastership and, in Ryoryosai's later years, events related to tea ceremony were given with Harutomi acting as the iemoto. As a consequence, Harutomi, technically bestowed the certificate of full mastership, which Ryoryosai left in trust with Harutomi, on Kyukosai (the 10th head of the school), who followed in the footsteps of Ryoryosai at a young age. The present front gate of the Omote-Senke premises was built by the house of Kishu-Tokugawa for the occasion of Harutomi's visit to Fushin-an. In the Kishu Province, incidentally, the tea ceremony of Omote-Senke became widespread from the domain head to the common people and, even today, it remains very popular. As evidenced in the foregoing, Omote-Senke was receiving exceptional treatment by the house of Kishu-Tokugawa. A moment of 'the former site of the Kishu Clan Senke residence' that reminds us of the past still stands in the Wakayama Castle town at Horizume-bashi Minami-gawa, Miki Town, Wakayama City today.

From the Genroku era to the Kasei eraIn view of the history of tea ceremony, it is worthy of special mention that Omote-Senke played a role in its penetration into town people since the times of Kakukakusai. In the mid Edo Period which reached a peak with the Genroku era, the merchant class had real power in financial matters and Senke accepted a large number of wealthy merchants such as the head of the Mitsui family Hachiroemon as disciples. As a result; (1) the old conventional way of teaching and operating the school was revised to better address the needs of those new disciples, and (2) the style of tea ceremony changed under the influence of popular culture. Joshinsai (the 7th iemoto), in particular, is hailed as the reviver of Senke, being the renowned iemoto who, in collaboration with own younger brother Soshitsu ITTO (the 8th head of Ura-Senke) and one of his best disciples, developed a style of tea ceremony that answers the needs of the times.

The new organizational structure, as mentioned in the item (1) above, is the iemoto system (the system of licensing the teaching of a traditional Japanese art) that is commonly seen with the teaching of traditional Japanese arts. Iemoto, the head of Senke, trained disciples under his direct supervision and charged an instruction fee. Those disciples under the direct supervision of the iemoto in turn trained their disciples for a fee and part of their earnings were paid to the iemoto. It is a pyramid-style organizational structure with the iemoto sitting at the top, consisting of endless levels. Additionally, the iemoto has an exclusive right to issue the Omote-Senke yurushijo (permit) in principle and each instructor is under obligation to submit an application as well as a fee (to cover the processing cost for the application) for a permit for their disciple to their senior instructors as well as the iemoto. It should be said that this system serves various purposes whereby to give authority to the iemoto, to keep disciples from breaking away from the iemoto to create their own schools as well as to establish the financial base of the organization.

With respect to the new method of teaching as described in item (1), the shichiji-shiki (the method consisting of seven types of lessons) should be cited. In essence, a group of 5 people can take a lesson at a time by assigning a role in the tea ceremony to each person. It was a rage due to its role playing factor. As a consequence, a larger room consisting of 8 tatami mats and a toko (a little alcove) that is 1. 8 m referred to as Kagetsuro became popular which was reproduced in various locations including Edo.

Plainly speaking, the new style of tea ceremony as mentioned in item (2) brought a freehearted atmosphere to the traditional tea ceremony in general. People no longer paid attention to minuscule tearooms introduced by SEN no Rikyu and Sotan SEN and, if anything, tearooms became rebuilt and enlarged. Tea making utensils changed from those of simple and quiet understated elegance in the past to, for example, natsume (a powdered tea container) of opulent gold-relief lacquer ware and tea making utensils continued to become more extravagant and conspicuous with time from then onward to the present day.

The organizational reform carried out by the key Senke persons including Joshinsai (the 7th) developed the foundation to hand down the Senke school of tea ceremony to future generations and, on the other hand, it not only changed the method of teaching but also the world of wabicha (tea ceremony of austere refinement), which was designed to entertain a small group of people in a minuscule space. Some people have criticized it, saying that it corrupted tea ceremony.

In 1788, during the time of Sotsukokusai (or Sottakusai) (the 8th), both Omote-Senke and Ura-Senke lost all of their numerous tea ceremony rooms except for the utensils that had been handed down from their ancestors. The Senke tea ceremony rooms were quickly rebuilt by the following year and the tea ceremony event commemorating the 199th anniversary of death of Rikyu-koji (the late Rikyu) was held in grand style. It is considered that these restorations were made possible thanks, in large part, to the streamlined iemoto system installed by the key Senke persons including Joshinsai.

Incidentally, the Mitsui family originally came from Matsuzaka City in the former Ise Province, which was a feudal domain of the Kii clan, and hence they had strong ties with the house of Kishu-Tokugawa. When Takasuke MITSUI, the 6th head of the Mitsui-Kita family that was the eldest son's lineage of the house of Mitsui, was invited to the Wakayama Castle town (the town developed around the Wakayama Castle) (Nishihama-goten), Harutomi painted a turtle on the tea bowl that was hand-made by Takasuke. Numerous tea ceremony utensils given by Harutomi and Nariyuki have been handed down and are still remaining in possession of the Mitsui family today.

During and after the Meiji PeriodWhen the Meiji period began, people no longer took interest in tea ceremony which was dismissed as a thing of the past and, in addition, with the great patronage of the Kishu clan being lost, tea ceremony as well as the iemoto system was confronted with a life-or-death crisis. In those days, those schools that were popular within the specific feudal clan structure disappeared. Although Omote-Senke too was faced with a crisis, thanks to the iemoto system and, above all, a powerful patron the Mitsui family, it escaped hardships that Ura-Senke experienced.

Rokurokusai (the 11th iemoto) survived difficulties brought on by the Meiji Restoration but, in 1906, after turning the iemoto status to Seisai (the 12th iemoto), an accidental fire destroyed most of the building belonging to the iemoto. It was not until 1911 when the reconstruction was completed and, comparing to the circumstance after a great fire of Tenmei when it took one short year to the full restoration, it bespoke that the very few people supported tea ceremony world in those days. However, the number of people who learn tea ceremony subsequently increased whereby Shofuro, an 8 tatami-mat tea room was added in 1921, which was extended by adding two 10 tatami-mat rooms in 1959.

After World War II were the times when Omote-Senke grew as a tea ceremony organization rather than its tea ceremony developing further. Along with Japan's high economic growth, the number of people who learned tea ceremony increased at an explosive rate but Ura-Senke promoting popularization captured vast majority of the market share of the tea ceremony followers and Omote-Senke consequently found themselves playing second fiddle to Ura-Senke. Since the 4th iemoto Koshin succeeded to the head position in the Sen family from Sotan, Omote-Senke is the head family of Senke, however, Ura-Senke publicly proclaims with no hesitation that 'there is no hierarchical relation among the three Senke' at present. Omote-Senke founded the Omote-Senke Domon-kai in 1944 (and reorganized in 1953), a lateral organization much like the Ura-Senke Tanko-kai but, in terms of organization's power, it is a far cry from the Ura-Senke Tanko-kai. Progress of the tea ceremony, however, is not defined by the growth, just to be a big organization alone. The question is how Omote-Senke will further develop in the context of the history of the tea ceremony in the future.

Visit the Official Omote-Senke Website

Ura-Senke School (裏千家)

Overview of the Ura-Senke School
Ura-Senke is one of various schools of tea ceremony. Specifically, it is one of the san-Senke schools (three Senke schools), the other two being Omote Senke and Mushanokoji Senke schools. It is the largest among the various schools of tea ceremony, and has the majority of students who enjoy studying tea ceremony in Japan.

The word "Ura-Senke" refers either to Soke (the legitimate family of the original house) composed of the head of the school and his family, or to such a legal entity as the foundation Ura-Senke-Konnichi-an, or the school itself as an organization including its disciples and descendants.

Soke's residence is located at Ogawadori, Teranouchi-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, adjoining the residence of Omote Senke. The name of its tea-ceremony house, Konnichi-an, is now synonymous with the Ura-Senke school. This school is named Ura-Senke (literally, backside Sen family) after its arbour Konnichi-an which is situated on the back side of Omote Senke's tea-ceremony house, Fushin-an.

Features of Ura-Senke School
Basically, temae-saho (serving manners) of each of the three Sansenke schools are similar, but following are some differences that can be noticed even by non-professionals.

One is the Ura-Senke school method of generously whisking the weakly flavored powdered green tea. The Omote-senke school does not whisk the tea as much to cause the surface to be covered with foam.

The chasen, (a bamboo tea whisk) commonly used by the Ura-Senke school, is made from shiratake (white bamboo). The Omote-senke school uses a chasen made from susudake (soot-colored bamboo), while the Mushanokoji-Senke school uses a chasen made from kurochiku (block bamboo. )

According to the Ura-Senke school, fukusa (a small silk wrapper) used by women in a tea ceremony is basically a scarlet-colored plain cloth, but patterned cloth may also be used. According to the Omote-Senke school, fukusa (small silk wrapper) used by women in a tea ceremony is shumuji cloth (vermillion colored plain cloth. )

Among the three Sansenke schools, the Ura-Senke school has been featured by its particularly prominent "positive attitude" since the generation of Gengensai, the eleventh headmaster of the school. The Ura-Senke school has kept a more positive attitude than the other two Senke schools in creating new temae (tea serving manners/methods), as being represented by chabakodate (a tea serving method using tea chests) and ryureishiki (a style of tea ceremony using chairs to sit on), both invented by Gengensai, and bonryaku-date (bonryaku-type service) established by Ennosai, thirteenth head of the school. Although the ryurei and bonryaku styles of tea ceremony later became accepted by all sansenke and other schools, in different forms, such a positive progressive attitude characteristic of Ura-Senke is rarely seen among other traditional schools. Another feature of Ura-Senke is that it tends to pursue brilliance and beauty, which is distinctive among the Sansenke schools that basically respect a more austere refinement. For example, it offers considerably more types of shelves for preference, and it favors such colorful temae (serving manner) like shikishi-date (a tea serving manner/method using colored paper) for chabako (a tea chest).

History of Ura-Senke School
From the Establishment of the School to the End of the Edo Era
The 3rd head of Senke school, Sotan, had passed Fushin-an house on to his 3rd son, Sosa KOSHIN, and moved to newly built tea-ceremony house on the same premise to spend his retirement together with his 4th son, Soshitsu Senso. The tea-ceremony house ceded to Sotan were Konnichi-an with ichijo-daime (one and three third tatami mats), Yuin or reproduction of Rikyu yojohan (Rikyu's tea room with four and half tatami mats) and Kan-untei with eight tatami mats, all of which have contributed to the establishment of the Ura-Senke school.

In 1642, Soshitsu SENSO, the 4th head of the Ura-Senke school, was retained by the already retired Toshitsune MAEDA of the Maeda clan, and was given a 200 koku salary with a residence at San-no-maru in Komatsu-jo castle. When Toshitsune MAEDA and Sotan GEMPAKU died in 1658, Soshitsu SENSO succeeded the Ura-Senke school to become its 4th head, and in 1671 when he was retained by Tsunanori MAEDA as a tea server, he was given a 150 koku salary and a residence at Misogura-cho in Kanazawa-jo castle town. Afterwards, Soshitsu SENSO maintained his energetic activities traveling back and forth between Kanazawa and Kyoto until 1688, and died in 1697.

Immediately after the death of Soshitsu Senso, his successor and the 5th head of the school, Soshitsu JOSO, was retained by Kaga domain but soon resigned to serve the Hisamatsu clan of Iyo-Matsuyama domain. From then until the end of the Edo era, Soshitsu JOSO continued his services to his retainer, the Hisamatsu family, also keeping, at the same time, constant contact with the Maeda family. Later on, Soshitsu (the head of the Ura-Senke Tradition of Tea) Itto YUGENSAI, the 8th head of the Ura-Senke school, visited the Hachisuka clan of Tokushima domain.

Soshitsu Itto YUGENSAI, the 8th head of the Ura-Senke school, and his elder brother Joshinsai, the 7th head of the Omote Senke school, are both regarded as major contributors to the restoration of Senke schools. As the art of tea ceremony became increasingly popularized, they could successfully disseminate Senke's tea ceremony by instituting new methods for practicing it, called shichijishiki (seven types of methods to practice the tea ceremony. )Today, the three Senke schools are widely referred to as the representatives of tea ceremony, the main reasons are not only the fame of their originator, Sen no Rikyu, but also the fact that Sansenke's methods were commonly accepted among the rich class town people every where in Japan during that time.

On new year's eve in 1788, there was a massive fire in Kyoto, which burned out the entire premises of Omote Senke and Ura-Senke. Then, traditional equipment and instruments could be carried out of the fire to Daitoku-ji temple, but various tea-ceremony houses were completely burned to the ground. It was Sekio FUKENSAI, the 9th head of the school, who reconstructed almost all of the burned premises.

After End of Edo Era and Beginning of Meiji
Seichu GENGENSAI, the eleventh head of the Ura-Senke school, was adopted at the age of ten from the Matsudaira family of the Okutono domain to become a husband of the daughter of Hakuso NINTOKUSAI, the tenth head of the school. In contrast with previous heads of the school, who had had a rather passive Zen-style attitude, Seichu GENGENSAI was a cheerful and active person with expertise in not only the tea ceremony but also flower arrangement, the traditional incense-smelling ceremony and Noh songs, who created such new methods of tea ceremony as chabakodate (a tea serving method using a tea chest) and ryureishiki (a style of tea ceremony using chairs to sit on) and also restored wakindate (a tea serving method using wakin or traditional Japanese cloth. )He is appraised as a pioneer for modernizing the tea ceremony in step with a changing world from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period, being credited for his innovative ryureishiki style tea ceremony which was specially arranged to welcome foreign visitors to the exhibition held in 1872, and also for his criticism against the general trend to consider tea ceremony as art for amusement, as written in his book "Sado no Gen-i (literally, Root Meaning of the Tea Ceremony. )"

Due to dissipation by Jikisho YUMYOSAI, who was an adoptee from the Suminokura family and became the twelfth head of Ura-Senke school, this school had once become bankrupt during the Meiji era, but was later restored thanks to the dissemination activities of Tetchu ENNOSAI, the thirteenth head of the school. Ennosai, who had moved his residence to Tokyo to live for six years up until 1896 in quest of collaborators, returned to Kyoto and exerted himself for the popularization of Ura-Senke's tea ceremony through the publication of instructional books and journals of "Konnichi-an Geppo (literally, monthly journal of Konnichi-an. )He also tried his best to systemize Ura-Senke's tea ceremony course by introducing it into curriculums of girls' schools and holding lectures in order to unify its teaching policies. In addition, he has contributed to the creation of Sanyu-shiki and the restoration of Nagashi-tate and Daien-tate.

After World War II, Sekiso TANTANSAI, the fourteenth head of the Ura-Senke school worked on introducing a tea ceremony course into school education curriculums, which led to making Ura-Senke's method dominant at all school club activities concerning tea ceremony. Tantansai is also credited with promoting the tea ceremony through tea offerings at shrines and temples everywhere in Japan as well as engaging in its dissemination activities abroad. He continued his efforts to systemize organization of Ura-Senke's tea ceremony by setting up a national organization of fellow members, named Tanko-kai, and also by obtaining corporate status for the head of the school and his family, so Ura-Senke is now proud of being the largest scale school among many tea ceremony schools. Such activities for dissemination and systemization were continued by Hoso HOUNSAI, the fifteenth head of the Ura-Senke school, who has applied his efforts, in particular, to promotion abroad.

Visit the Official Ura-Senke Website

Mushanokoji-Senke School (武者小路千家)

Overview of Mushanokoji-Senke School
Mushanokoji-Senke is one of the tea schools. In particular, it is one of the three Senke along with Omote-senke and Ura-senke. Kankyuan refers to either; 1) the tea ceremony house of Mushanokoji-Senke or 2) Zaidan Hojin Kankyuan (the Kankyuan Foundation). The residence of the head of the school is located at Ogawa Higashi Iru, Mushanokoji-dori Street, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture and hence the name Mushanokoji-Senke.

The History of Mushanokoji-Senke School
The fourth Soke Shoshu ICHIO left his family home along with his older brother Sosetsu to become an adoptive child of a lacquer-ware artisan working under the shop name of Kichimonjiya and was referred to as Jinemon YOSHIOKA. However, in the last few years of his life, Sotan was working with Sosa KOSHIN and it seems that after returning to the way of tea at Senke, he set up Kankyuan as urged by his brothers. The lacquer-ware shop was carried on by the Setetsu NAKAMURA family. In 1666, Ichio served Yorishige MATSUDAIRA of the Takamatsu clan in the Sanuki Province as Sado (a person who oversees the matters relating to the way of tea) but transferred the position to the fifth Soke Soshu BUNSHUKU on the grounds of his advancing age. Thereafter, iemoto (Head of the School) of Mushanokoji-Senke was assigned as Sado shinan yaku (Japanese Tea Ceremony instructor).

The seventh Soke Chokusai was an adoptive son from a samurai family but, along with the seventh iemoto of Omote-senke Joshinsai and the eight iemoto of Ura-senke Itto Soshitsu who were his contemporaries, he developed the iemoto seido (iemoto system) whereby he took in many students and was referred to as the resurgence. However, Kankyuan was burnt down several times by various causes including the Great Fire of Tenmei, the battles at the end of the Edo Period and the like but was rebuilt after each incident.

After the passing of the 11th Soke Isshisai in early Meiji Period, the 12th Soke Yukosai who was the youthful adoptive son of Isshisai was fostered by Ura-senke and Mushanokoji-Senke was extinguished for the period of time. Yukosai, however, studied Japanese History at Tokyo Imperial University and, after graduation, restored Mushanokoji-Senke. Yukosai enjoyed the western music and liked a jujube-shaped tea case known as 'Kimigayoso' with a design of staff notation. The 13th Soke Urinsai was a scholar at Kyoto Imperial University was a scholarly iemoto much like Yukosai was.

Visit the Official Mushanokoji-Senke Website
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