It is said that the origin of Japanese green tea is Uji tea. In Uji, the production method of sencha was born in 1738 and the production method of gyokuro was also born 100 years later. Sadō, which also was compiled in Uji, has deep and unique thoughts. Some people who may have heard about sadō or Japanese tea ceremony might know that it has some fixed etiquettes to serve and drink. But the essence of sadō is not the etiquettes. Tea is not simply a beverage. It always comes along with the spirit of omotenashi, which means Japanese hospitality. The host expresses his appreciation to this one time one meeting relationship with the guests by serving tea with courtesy and reverence. Not only expressing the sadō mind, a host must have wide variety of knowledge and sensitiveness in religion, philosophy, tea serving tools, and some artworks for decorating the tea room to embody the whole art of sadō.
Wabi-sabi is a word created from the process of enjoying this art.
Japanese people tend to love things that are sober and subdued which is not common in this world. It does not mean that gorgeous things are not adored, but we can certainly say that sadō shows their aspect of deep love for subdued things precisely. Wabi-sabi can shortly be defined as rusticity. But it is not just rustic. It is a spirit of admiring something perfectly simple without any embellishments. It is a heart of loving nature, wishing things to exist in its natural ways. It is a behavior to thank the presence of ourselves and feel the time flow by all senses. Wabi-sabi is a word to describe pure beauty which appears after shedding ostentation. Every Japanese people inheres the spirit of wabi-sabi, which is the pride of Japanese Minimalism. It is not a sense to know, but a sense to feel and remember. We would like you to know and become familiar with this unique Japanese spirit and art to enjoy tea more comfortably. It is a pleasure to share our conversancy with you.
In Japan, tea is the culture itself. Most restaurants in Japan serve tea free of charge. Japanese people had been drinking tea since 6th century, but a big movement came in Kamakura-era of 12th century. Eisai, a Chinese monk earnestly introduced tea into Japan. He healed the illness of shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo by his handmade tea. The good reputation of tea spread over immediately and since the climate of Japan was suitable for growing, tea became tremendously popular among Japanese people. The health effect of tea had been confirmed ever since.
Eisai, who introduced tea into Japan, and Sen no Rikyū, who cultivated Sadō were practitioners of Zen. Have you heard about zazen? Zasen is one of the methods for mental concentration. When we concentrate to serve tea in the quiet space of the tea room, we feel our minds calm down and that makes us possible to look through ourselves. These two methods are very similar. Both of the methods helps us to face with ourselves, listen to the inner voice and acquire inner peace. Buddhism is not the only religion involved. The idea of tea etiquettes are from Confucianism. The guideline about position and direction of the places are from Taoism. Fukusa, which is a wrapping cloth, comes from Christianity. Many religions are involved to form sadō.
A tea room is where we enjoy our experience of tea ceremony. Have you ever seen a tea room? A narrow, exceedingly simple decorated room of four and a half tatami mat sized space is like a small universe. When a samurai warrior enters this small universe, he must leave his sword behind. The sword means his life, but it is not suitable for a tea room. Everyone is equal in the tea room. Go through the same steps, enter, sit with their legs beneath them and gathered in a narrow space, they pass around and drink from one bowl of matcha. No master and vassal relationship exists in the space.