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Meditation in Japanese: Why Japanese people drink tea in a special way

December 15, 2021

Meditation in Japanese: Why Japanese people drink tea in a special way

The classical Japanese tea ceremony itself, in the modern form known to us, was formed in the XVI century by the tea master Sen no Rikyū. Thus, tea from a simple drink has become the basis of a deep philosophy and meditative practice aimed at cognition and self-improvement through the beauty of simple things.

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japanese ceremony

But today we will talk about tea and special tea ceremonies. This is a specific, complex ritual with incredible aesthetics and many subtleties of execution.

The four principles of the ceremony

Sei – purity of body and spirit. Before the ceremony, it is customary to clean the room and dishes.

Ke – respect. Means equality of the people present. In a tea house, it doesn't matter who you are. 

Wa – harmony. It is the meaning of the whole action encouraging people to become a little bit happier. This is facilitated by the entourage – the decoration of the tea house is always simple: a tatami mat on the floor, a tea hearth, a lack of furniture, and distracting details. 

Jaku is a calmness that can be compared to enlightenment. The tea ceremony is a meditation in motion. The chamber space of the tea house embodies a model of an ideal Universe where time flows; differently, all the stress is gon,e and there is nothing superfluous.

Where the ceremony is held

Japanese tea drinking takes place in a special place – as a rule, it is a garden in which there is a path leading to the tea house.

The garden is designed in such a way that being in it immerses you in an atmosphere of calm, self-care, and tranquility. Therefore, they are usually small and very cozy. Preference is given to evergreens; there are also stones and lanterns with soft light.

japanese ceremony

The paths are paved with natural stone and can be executed in any form pleasing to the owner. The path ends near the house, where there is a well in which guests perform a ritual ablution.

The house is usually modest and small in size, with a small window letting in weak light.

How is the ceremony going

On the way to the tea ceremony, the guests meet with water several times. First, washing the hands and mouth is performed using a bamboo ladle. After that, sitting on a special bench, the guests contemplate the beauty of the garden and are filled with peace.

The owner, who is also a master, invites guests to the tea house, greets them with a bow, and serves lunch as treats. Then sweets are served, and the master makes a thick tea. Later, expensive tea utensils are shown, and sweets and light tea are served at the end. He pours the powdered tea powder with hot water and whisks it until a light foam form with a special bamboo whisk. The guests watch the master's movements in silence, enjoying the aesthetics of each gesture.

The ceremony lasts about 4 hours and consists of three stages: eating, drinking “thick" and then “liquid" tea. In the end, the host apologizes, bows to the guests, and leaves the room. This is the final chord of the ceremony.

Tips for visiting a Japanese tea ceremony

There is “high tea” when the ceremony is held in silence, and “light” tea – when a light, pleasant conversation is allowed.

At the ceremony, it is necessary to be a guest and a participant in the action, and not just a spectator. 

It is customary to prepare for the ceremony: it is important to choose comfortable clothes – such that it is comfortable to sit on the tatami without damaging it.

Try it, maybe this experience will turn your life around!

Related Articles You May Be Interested

What is Tea Ceremony?
10 Popular Types of Japanese Tea Ceremony - How many do you know?
17 Japanese Tea Ceremony Tools
Sen No Rikyu – A Tea master that changed the Japanese tea culture forever

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