cha no yu
Preparing for the Ceremony
Chaji is a full tea
presentation with a meal. As in virtually every tea ceremony, the host
may spend days going over minutiae to insure that this ceremony will be
perfect. Through tea, recognition is given that every human encounter is
a singular occasion which can, and will, never recur again exactly. Thus
every aspect of tea must be savored for what it gives the participants.
The ceremony takes
place in a room designed and designated for tea. It is called the chashitsu.
Usually this room is within the tea house, located away from the residence,
in the garden.
The guests (four is
the preferred number) are shown into the machiai (waiting room).
Here, the hanto (assistant to the host) offers them
(the hot water which will be used to make tea). While here, the guests
choose one of their group to act as the main guest. The hanto then leads
the guests, main guest directly behind, to a water sprinkled garden devoid
of flowers. It is called roji (dew ground). Here the guests rid
themselves of the dust of the world. They then seat themselves on the koshikake
machiai (waiting bench), anticipating the approach of the host who
has the official title teishu (house master).
before receiving the guests, the teishu fills the tsukubai (stone
basin), which is set among low stones with fresh water. Taking a ladle
of water the teishu purifies his hands and mouth then proceeds through
the chumon (middle gate) to welcome his guests with a bow. No words
are spoken. The teishu leads the hanto, the main guest and the others (in
that order) through the chumon which symbolizes door between the coarse
physical world and the spiritual world of tea.
The guests and hanto
purify themselves at the tsukubai and enter the teahouse. The sliding door
is only thirty six inches high. Thus all who enter must bow their heads
and crouch. This door points to the reality that all are equal in tea,
irrespective of status or social position. The last person in latches the
Inside the Teahouse
The room is devoid
of any decoration except for an alcove called a tokonoma. Hanging in the
alcove is a kakemono (scroll painting), carefully selected by the
host, which reveals the theme of the ceremony. The Buddhist scripture on
the scroll is by a master and is called bokuseki (ink traces). Each
guest admires the scroll in turn, then examines the kama (kettle)
and hearth (furo for the portable type and ro for the type
set into the floor in winter to provide warmth), which were laid just before
they were greeted by the host. They then are seated according to their
respective positions in the ceremony.
The host seats himself
and greetings are exchanged, first between the host and principle guest,
then the host and other guests. A charcoal fire is then built if it is
ro season and after the meal if it is furo season. In ro season kneaded
incense is put in the fire and sandalwood incense in the furo season.
Each guest is served
a meal called chakaiseki. Served on a tray with fresh cedar chopsticks,
the meal consists of three courses. On the tray is cooked white rice in
a ceramic bowl which will be eaten with other dishes, miso soup which is
served in covered lacquer bowls and raw fish, plain or pickled, or pickled
vegetables in a ceramic dish.
Sake is served. The
first course is called hashiarai (rinsing the chopsticks).
(foods simmered in broth) in separate covered lacquer dishes.
(grilled foods) are served in individual portions on ceramic plates. Additional
rice and soup is offered each guest. At this course the host may eat, if
he chooses. The palate is then cleared with kosuimono, a simple
clear broth served in covered lacquer bowls.
The next course derives
its name from the Shinto reverence of nature. It is called hassun
which is also the name for the simple wooden tray that is used to serve
this course. This course consists of uminomono and yamanomono
(seafood and mountain food respectively) which signify the abundance of
the sea and land. The host eats during this course, and is served sake
by each guest. The position of server is considered a higher position and,
to insure equality of all in the tea room, each acts as host if only momentarily.
things) are served in small ceramic bowls, and browned rice is served in
salted water in a lacquer pitcher, representing the last of the rice. Each
guest cleans the utensils they have used with soft paper which they bring.
A omogashi (principal sweet) is served to conclude the meal. The
host then invites his guests to retire to the garden or waiting room while
he prepares for tea.
Once the guests have
departed, the host removes the scroll and replaces it with flowers. The
room is swept and the utensils for preparing koi cha are arranged. Over
thirteen individual items are used. Each is costly and considered an art
Spiritual World of Tea
In tea ceremony, water
represents yin and fire in the hearth yang. The water is
held in a jar called the mizusashi. This stoneware jar contains
fresh water symbolizing purity, and is touched only by the host. Matcha
is kept in a small ceramic container called a chaire which is in
turn covered in a shifuku (fine silk pouch) which is set in front
of the mizusashi. The occasion will dictate the type of tana (stand)
used to display the chosen utensils.
If tea is served during
the day a gong is sounded, in evening a bell. Usually struck or rung five
to seven times, it summons the guests back to the tea house. They purify
hands and mouth once again and re-enter as before. They admire the flowers,
kettle and hearth and seat themselves.
host enters with the chawan (tea bowl) which holds the chasen
(tea whisk), chakin (the tea cloth) which is a bleached white linen
cloth used to dry the bowl, and the chashaku (tea scoop), a slender
bamboo scoop used to dispense the matcha, which rests across it. These
are arranged next to the water jar which represents the sun (symbolic of
yang); the bowl is the moon (yin). Retiring to the preparation room, the
host returns with the kensui (waste water bowl), the hishaku
(bamboo water ladle) and futaoki (a green bamboo rest for the kettle
lid). He then closes the door to the preparation room.
Using a fukusa
(fine silk cloth), which represents the spirit of the host, the host purifies
the tea container and scoop. Deep significance is found in the host's careful
inspection, folding and handling of the fukusa, for his level of concentration
and state of meditation are being intensified. Hot water is ladled into
the tea bowl, the whisk is rinsed, the tea bowl is emptied and wiped with
Lifting the tea scoop
and tea container, the host places three scoops of tea per guest into the
tea bowl. Hot water is ladled from the kettle into the teabowl in a quantity
sufficient to create a thin paste with the whisk. Additional water is then
added to so the paste can be whisked into a thick liquid consistent with
pea soup. Unused water in the ladle is returned to the kettle.
The host passes the
tea bowl to the main guest who bows in accepting it. The bowl is raised
and rotate in the hand to be admired. The guest then drinks some of the
tea, wipes the rim of the bowl, and passes the bowl to the next guest who
does the same as the main guest.
When the guests have
all tasted the tea the bowl is returned to the host who rinses it. The
whisk is rinsed and the tea scoop and the tea container cleaned.
The scoop and tea
container are offered to the guests for examination. A discussion of the
objects, presentation and other appropriate topics takes place.
Preparing for Departure
fire is then rebuilt
for usa cha (thin tea). This tea will rinse the palate and symbolically
prepares the guests for leaving the spiritual world of tea and re-entering
the physical world. Smoking articles are offered, but rarely does smoking
take place in a tearoom. This is but a sign for relaxation.
and teaburi (hand warmers) are offered. To compliment usa cha, higashi
(dry sweets) are served. Usa cha and koi cha are made in the same manner,
except that less tea powder of a lesser quality is used, and it is dispensed
from a date-shaped wooden container called
natsume. The tea bowl
is more decorative in style; and guests are individually served a bowl
of this forthy brew.
At the conclusion,
the guests express their appreciation for the tea and admiration for the
art of the host. They leave as the host watches from the door of the teahouse.
- As described in the book, Tea, Heaven
by William Woodworth (1994)