What is Chanoyu? The relationship with the tea ceremony and its general manners.

What is Chanoyu? The relationship with the tea ceremony and its general manners.
What is Chanoyu? The relationship with the tea ceremony and its general manners.

What is Chanoyu? Chanoyu, sometimes called "chanoyu" overseas, is one of the representative manners of Japanese culture. Many people learn chanoyu in order to understand the spirit of hospitality and manners, and tea ceremony classes and casual tea ceremonies are held all over town. This article introduces the characteristics and history of chanoyu for those who would like to study it or for beginners. In the latter half of the article, an overview of the manners of tea ceremony is also introduced.

What is chanoyu?

"Chanoyu" is the modern term for a tea ceremony or tea party. The owner of the tea house prepares matcha (powdered green tea) and serves it to his or her guests, who all enjoy the tea. As the chanoyu culture spread and became more refined, the idea of " Sado" or tea ceremony, later began to take shape. Today, many people consider chanoyu and sado to be the same thing in terms of the meaning of the words. On the other hand, there are some differences in ideas and rules between chanoyu at the time of its popularization and the modern tea ceremony. Although the definitions of the words change depending on how they are perceived, this article will explain those at the time of popularization as chanoyu and those in the modern era as chado. To understand the differences between the two, let's first look at what makes chanoyu unique.

The Features of Chanoyu

There are three main points that distinguish chanoyu from the action of simply "drinking tea with everyone" as follows.
  • The host performs the tea ceremony in full view of the guests.
  • Enjoying the atmosphere of the place over several hours
  • Enjoying the beauty of the tea utensils
The details of each are as follows.

Point 1: The host conducts the tea ceremony in full view of the guests.

In chanoyu, the host and the guests are in the same space, and the tea utensils are visible to both. Until this culture took root, the tea ceremony was conducted in a separate room.
  • Bringing in powdered green tea that has been brewed in another room
  • The tea utensils were placed in a closet in the room, and the tea was served in such a way that the guests could not see the movement of the utensils.
This was the way to serve tea without showing the guests the tea ceremony.

Point 2. Enjoying over several hours

At the time of its popularization, the tea ceremony consisted of a meal such as kaiseki, followed by a cup of koicha (thick tea) and finally a cup of usucha (thin tea), similar to a French course. Each tea ceremony therefore took several hours to complete. Basically, the gathering starts around 11:00 a.m. and ends around 2:00 p.m.

Point 3. Enjoy the beauty of tea utensils

In chanoyu, the use of beautiful utensils is also considered important. The sense of beauty at that time was described as "cold" and "withered" in historical documents. The state of mind when one approaches the tea ceremony is considered to be a state of "impermanence," and "chilled and withered" is the ideal state in which this impermanence is at its highest. This was the first term used to describe the state of mind when composing waka poems, which were very popular at the time. In the tea ceremony, pride was not considered a good thing, and it was considered good to have good utensils, to know their taste, and to attain a level in line with the growth of one's mind. This is an attitude that has been carried over to the present-day tea ceremony.

Relationship between Chanoyu and the Sado (Tea Ceremony)

Relationship between Chanoyu and the Sado (Tea Ceremony)

As mentioned above, chanoyu had a sense of beauty in tea utensils, but as it progressed to the Sanzenke period, which originated with Sen no Rikyu, the scope of beauty pursued was further expanded to include the space of the tea room and the behavior of people, and the current form of the tea ceremony was created.

In addition to the utensils used in the tea ceremony, the beauty of the interior decoration of the tea room and the garden is also appreciated. There are also traditional rules of etiquette for entering, sitting, bowing, standing, and walking in the tea room. This culture was created over the course of history so that the owner of the tea house can entertain guests and serve them delicious tea, and the guests can enjoy the tea served to them.

It is a culture that has been created over the course of history, in which the owner of the tea house serves tea to his/her guests, and the guests enjoy the delicious tea served to them.

>The four rules and seven rules of tea ceremony

The standards of beauty and detailed manners differ from school to school. Among them, I would like to introduce a spiritual theory called "Shikki shichi shisoku," a phrase by Sen no Rikyu, the originator of the tea ceremony.

The "Four Rules" refer to the spirit of "harmony, respect, purity, and solitude.
  • ●Harmony: A harmonious mind.
  • ●Respect: Mutual respect
  • ●Kiyoshi: To be pure and clean.
  • ●Sabi: To have an unperturbed mind.
The "Seven Rules" are the following. The "Seven Rules" are important attitudes for hospitality.it alaways call is Japaness omotenashi.
  • ●Make tea with all your heart and soul, and let your guests enjoy it.
  • ●To light charcoal on fire, it is necessary not only to learn the formality but also to grasp the essence of the art.
  • ●To respect the seasons by devising decorations and sweets so that the tea is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • ●Treat flowers and other life given by nature as precious.
  • ●Have a relaxed mindset and value the time you spend with others.
  • ●Be prepared to act calmly at any time, both mentally and practically, and respond flexibly.
  • ●Respect each other's presence in the same space.
  • ●Respect others in the same space. These principles, taught by Sen no Rikyu, have been handed down to the present day.

The Beginning of Chanoyu

The Beginning of Chanoyu

Matcha was originally introduced to Japan from China at the end of the 11th century, and spread among the general public over a period of 300 years. It is said to have spread along with Zen Buddhism (Rinzai sect), which was brought back to Japan by a man named Eisai during the Kamakura period (1185-1333). During the Muromachi period (1392-1491), "karamono," or things imported from China, and culture became popular, and opportunities to hold tea ceremonies increased. In the beginning, it was something that people could drink at home or at "teahouses" in front of temples or at "ninaicha" in tourist spots. As the spread of chanoyu spread, it is said that it was started by a monk named "Shuko," who had left the secular world and was undergoing ascetic training, and this was the beginning of chanoyu. Tea ceremonies and gatherings with the aforementioned characteristics began to be held using Japanese tea utensils, also known as "wamono.

It is not clear when the term chanoyu became common, but it is mentioned in a historical document titled "Honbo-ji Hoshiki" from 1484. In this document, it is forbidden for monks under house arrest to gather with others for chanoyu. The spirit of chanoyu initiated by Shukoh is also called "wabicha. In the generation after Shukoh, a man named Takeno Shao'oo inherited the Wabicha tradition. His disciple Sen no Rikyu perfected wabicha, which led to today's tea ceremony, during the Azuchi Momoyama period (1573-1603). After the fourth generation, Sen Rikyu's wabicha was divided into the so-called "three senke" schools: Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushanokoji Senke. Many other schools have emerged up to the present day.

Tea Ceremony Manners

At a tea ceremony or tea party, there is a guest of honor, the "Shokaku," who is the center of the gathering. The Shokugan often serves as the facilitator and is often a person who is well versed in the tea ceremony. The other guests enjoy the tea ceremony while being guided by the Shokugan. For beginners and those who wish to learn the tea ceremony, the following five points are important to keep in mind when participating in a tea ceremony as a guest.
  • ●How to enter the tea room
  • ●How to sit
  • ●How to receive sweets
  • ●How to receive sweets
  • ●How to receive tea
As tea ceremony etiquette often differs from school to school, this section introduces the etiquette of the Urasenke school as a general guide. Since the details may differ from teacher to teacher and from school to school, please consider this only as a reference.

How to Enter the Tea Room

There are two entrances to the tea room, one for guests and the other for the host. The entrance for the master of the tea room is connected to the water closet, and is designed so that it does not overlap with the guests' path. This allows the owner to prepare and clean up for a tea ceremony without running into guests. During preparation, the door at the entrance for guests is closed, and when it opens slightly enough for them to enter, it is a signal that they may enter. According to Urasenke etiquette, the guests enter the tea room one by one, starting from the right foot and walking four steps on one tatami mat. When the guests enter the room, the master of the tea ceremony is not in the room, but is waiting outside the tea room. The last guest to enter the room has the role of signaling that all the guests have entered the room. Tsume" is also called "tsume," and is considered the second most important guest after the main guest. When the tsume guest finishes entering the room, he or she closes the sliding door noisily to notify the master of the room. Upon hearing the sound, the master begins the tea ceremony or tea ceremony.

How to Sit

The order of seating is as follows: the regular guest sits in the seat closest to the front of the room where the kettle is located, and the other guests sit in the seats nearest to the kettle. The order of seating varies depending on the number of guests, but in general, the second and third guests are seated in order of precedence, with the last guest (tsume) seated closest to the entrance for guests only. Women sit with their knees about one fist length apart, and men sit with their knees about two fist lengths apart, with their legs slightly spread apart.

How to receive sweets

In Urasenke, the outside and inside of the edge of the tatami are considered to be separate places. The outside is shared with other guests and the host, while the inside is one's own place. Sweets are shared by all guests, and are placed in front of each guest in turn, passing along the outside of the edge of the tatami. When it arrives in front of you, you receive it with the kaishi you have brought. The etiquette for receiving is as follows.

First, while placing your hand on the bowl of confectionery, take a piece of confectionery with the shared chopsticks and place it on the kaishi. When you have finished taking the sweets, cleanse the chopsticks with the kaishi before returning them to their original position for the next guest. Fold a corner of the kaishi, place the chopsticks between the corners, and wipe them lightly. When you have finished putting them back, move the bowl of confectionery to the outside of the edge of the tatami mat in front of the next guest. When there are no more sweets left, turn the bowl 180 degrees and place it with the front facing the opposite direction to signal that you want the bowl to be lowered. When receiving confections, place the confectionery on a bundle of kaishi paper and lift it up with your hands to form a tray. After stabilizing the tray, take out a toothpick and cut the sweets into bite-size pieces on the kaishi. Be careful not to drop them. When you have finished eating the sweets, put away the kaigami. Fold the kaigami from the bottom so that the soiled side is inside. Place the bundle of kaigami used for the tray at the bottom, fold the kaigami you just folded in half again, and wipe the toothpicks with it. Put the used toothpicks back into the original container, and put them all together between the kaishi. Finally, tuck the kaigami into the fukusa.

How to serve tea

How to serve tea

When you are serving tea, place the tea bowl inside the edge of the tatami mat where you are. To the tea master who has prepared the tea, say,"otemae choudai itashimasu" (mind:Thank you for the tea) with gratitude. Take the tea bowl with your right hand and place it on your left. Hold the other side of the bowl with your right hand and turn the bowl twice clockwise. There is no set angle for turning, but by shifting the front of the bowl and avoiding putting your mouth on the front side, you show modesty to the host. The tea is then served with the right hand resting on the side of the bowl. Take a good sip of the tea and savor it all while quietly savoring it. When you take the last sip of tea, suck the tea noisily so as not to leave any tea in the bowl. After finishing the tea, lightly wipe the part of the bowl where you put your mouth on it with your finger, and then wipe your finger clean with a piece of Kaishi (Japanese tea paper). When you have finished drinking the tea, return the bowl to its original front position and enjoy the beauty of the bowl. After returning the bowl to the outside of the edge of the tatami mat, place your hand on the tatami mat and look at the entire bowl, then pick it up again to look at it closely and enjoy it. Since the tea bowl is a valuable possession of the host, it is good manners to look at it from a low position without lifting it high.


Chanoyu, started by Shuko, has long been loved as a tea ceremony and is enjoyed by many people even today. This article has introduced the aesthetic sense of cold and dry, the origins of the tea ceremony, and the ideas that are important to it. The tea ceremony is very profound, with different styles and manners depending on the school. On the other hand, there are also tea ceremonies held in various places that are open to the public. We encourage you to visit a nearby tea ceremony class or event and try to incorporate the Japanese spirit into your daily life.

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