Tea drinking was originally associated with Buddhism, and came to Japan in the 6th century, but the ritual of the tea ceremony didn't come until brought by the priest, Eisai around the beginning of the 13th century.

The Zen monk Ikkyuu believed the ritual of the ceremony led to enlightenment, and that there were four characteristics necessary - harmony, respect, purity, tranquility - (shown here in calligraphy). Today, this heritage continues, and to be invited to a formal tea ceremony is indeed a high honor.

To the right is a tea master stirring the bitter green tea powder with a whisk carved from a single piece of bamboo. In the forefront can be seen the cast-iron kettle with the bamboo ladle for pouring the hot water into the specially created tea bowl. (see the ceramics page.)

Professor Kimiko Gunji at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, has constructed a beautiful site with a wonderfully complete history and explanation of the tea ceremony. Lots of photos of students performing different parts of the ceremony, including their arrival at the tea house












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