Composite arts of Japan culture – etiquettes of tea ceremony (sadou).

Japanese tea ceremony (sadou) is unique Japanese culture activity which originally developed from Chinese tea. In ancient Japan, apart from having alcohol drinks, having tea is another way for nobility and social status people to enjoy with. Nowadays, the history of sadou is over 400 yesrs and is an important culture heritage of Japan. The activity invloves “clear heart” and “control desires” of Zen spirit, and is a significant way for one promotes his/her spirit and self-observation.
Composite arts of Japanese culture, Sadou
The reason saying sadou is a composite art, apart from unique etiquettes of making and drinking tea, the perform manners, tea equitements, tea room (chashitsu), the painting and decoration of the tea room are also parts of the sadou art. Some tea equitements have long history, or designed by famous designers, so some of them are very expensive. Japanese treats the culture activity importantly, therefore sadou is also a popular minor-subject for many high school girl students. Especially female lives in Kyoto, most of them have experiences joined sadou classes. “Sadou culture examination” holdes every middle of October, and divided into 4 levels, candidates are able to join the exam cross Japan.
A ceremonial tea-room, also called chashitsu in Japanese, is usually about 4 tatmi-mat size (1 tatmi is about 182cm x 91cm). The room usually has niche and a fire pin. A room called mitsuya which is a room adjacent to a tea ceremony room where to boil water, and place untensils and equitments. Windows are made by Japanese paper. A painting or a calligraphy is hanging on the wall with fresh flowers place next to the paintings. A ceremonial tea-room usually is simple and clean, but everything in the room is very elegant and graceful.
The etiquettes actually are very detailed and complicated, following articles are some brief and fundamental points of etiquettes when preparing and drinking tea.
Before having tea
Before preparing the drinking tea, there are three points need to be pay attention.
1) Please do not wearing any metal accessories, or a warch.
Most of the untensils usually are not cheap, so wearing a watch will be inappropriate.
2) Women shouldn't wearing too short skirt, and men should change to white socks.
Because both hosts and guests should seat properly during preparing and drinking tea.
3) Please avoid to use perfume with strong smell.
There are many kinds of tea in Japan such as matcha, sencha, genmaicha, konbucha, sobacha, etc. but sadou mainly is preparing matcha. Matcha has very special aroma, therefore strong perfume might loss chance to enjoy the unique aroma during drinking tea.
Etiquettes for preparing and drinking tea
Usually preparing tea is the host and called teisyu(ていしゅ), and the main guest drinking tea is also called syoukyaku(しょうきゃく), and the friends come together with the main guest is called renkyaku (れんきゃく). Following articles are mainly introduce you the etiquettes between host and main guest only.
1. Eat the sweets host provided.
In ancient of Japan, people thought tea is kind of “medicine”, and believed that drink too much is not good for health. In order to avoid harm the stomach, people usually prepare food before drinking tea. Sweets usually match the taste with matcha tea, therefore please finish the sweet before drinking tea.
2. Place the matcha powder into the tea bowl.
Teisyu usually place the matcha powder in a container, and use special tea spoon (chashaku) slowly place the powder into tea bowl. Weak/thin tea container called natsume (なつめ), and strong tea container called chaire (ちゃいれ). Weak/thin tea powder usually place 1 and half spoon (2g), and strong tea powder need 3 tea spoon (4g).
3. Pour the hot water.
Teisyu will use a bamboo-made ladle, take hot water from stove and pour into tea bowl which have matcha powder. The bamboo-made ladle is called hishaku (ひしゃく), and the water temperture usually is about 80 degrees.
4. Use bamboo whisk for the tea.
The whisk is also made by bamboo, same material as used for ladle. The special whisk is called chasen (ちゃせん), and usually stir for a minute.
5. Serve tea.
Above process point 2 ~ 4 is tea preparation called “tencha”. Place the tea bowl on the right hand means tencha process is completed. Left hand in the bottom of the tea bowl and slowly rotate the bowl until the pattern of the bowl face to guest, right hand hold the bowl to guest for serving tea.
6. Drinking tea.
Teisyu place the tea bowl with pattern face to guest for respect, as a guest also need to drink the tea avoid the tea bowl pattern for respect. Therefore rotate the tea bowl slightly three times and drink. For deeply respect, guests should be concentrate on the tea bowl instead of looking around. Place the tea bowl on the top of the left hand, and hold the tea bowl lightly and nicely on the right hand. After drinking the tea, rotate the tea bowl counterclockwise, then place the bowl pattern face and return it to the host. Afterwards, you are allow to talk.
※ Wiping the rim.
If drinking thin/weak tea, the tea should be finished once, and wiping the rim after the tea is completely drinking up. But if host made the strong tea, you don't have to finish all, but still need to wiping the rim after completed drinking the tea. A thumb and forefinger are allow to wiping the rim only.
Sadou Museum
There are many factions of sadou, sych as Anrakuansakuden, ikeiha, senkeryu, mushanokouji, etc. Senkeryu is most famous. If you want to experience sadou, sadou museum is also worth to go.
Address: 61 kamigamosakuraicyou, Kita-ku, Kyoto.
Opening Hour: 9:30~16:00
Closed: Sundays, please check official web-site for reference.