Chado: The Tea Ceremony

The Tea Ceremony, or Chado, (“Tsa-do”) is an essential part of Japanese culture and a ritual that takes years to master. The formal ceremony itself, the chaji, is a meditation on tea, the beauty and impermanence of time, and a call to a spiritual awakening of our human imperfections. Formal tea ceremonies usually last about four hours. (Ours did not!) The tea room is spare and unadorned, except for the beautiful natural elements of the tatami mats, or the presence of a singular, small display of chabana (flowers).

Some tools of the Chado ceremony: a tea container, a bamboo ladle (hishaku) for purifying one’s hands, a tea bowl for matcha, a chasen (bamboo whisk), and chashaku, the small, delicate, tea scoop above the bowl on the right.  


 Porter’s students had an introduction to the tea ceremony in a formal class taught at Kichijo, but when the Porter’s students left to meet host-sisters, the Kichijo students remained in class, taking instruction on the proper placement of utensils, appropriate presentation of the bowl, and the physical approach to the furo (heating structure), hibashi (fire chopsticks), and other tools and vessels included in this very specific ceremony. Kichijo students in this photo have been taking the tea class class for two years.

There are many Japanese images and poems surrounding the art and ritual of tea drinking. I’ll close with this from Kobayashi Issa, a late-18th/early 19th century Japanese poet from Kashiwabara in the mountains of the Shimano Province. His pen name, “Issa,” means “one cup of tea.” Enjoy!

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

What a beautiful way to welcome-in the evening!


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