TODAY JAPAN'S MANY TEA MANUFACTURERS produce mainly three types of green leaf tea, bancha, sencha, and gyokuro. The brownish colored bancha (common tea) is made from mature leaves picked late in the season. It is the most inexpensive, widely consumed leaf tea in Japan. Citizens from the lower classes may have begun drinking a boiled, coarse-leaf tea that was the precursor of bancha as early as the fifteenth century, at first using leaves and small twigs left over from production of powdered tea for chanoyu, popularly known as the "tea ceremony" in the West (see Hirota, this volume). By the nineteenth century, bancha had become so prevalent and so inexpensive that it was the standard tea sold to travelers at humble stalls in cities and along well-traveled routes.
Sencha and gyokuro teas are finer in quality and taste than bancha because they are made from young and tender leaves harvested in spring. Sencha (lit., "boiled tea") is an old term with multiple meanings, Although the word usually refers to green tea made from young tea leaves, it can also indicate a brewing method in which green leaf tea is thrown into a kettle of boiling or just-boiled water, or a formal tea ceremony using leaf tea, The most refined and costly green leaf tea processed in Japan,gyokuro (jade dew), derives its flavor from shading the leaves for a time during the early spring growing season. Like bancha, sencba is served informally, but the finest grades of both sencha and gyokuro are usually reserved for special occasions or for serving at formal tea ceremonies.
One of the most popular of the Daoist and Confucian-themed paintings created for sixteenth-century Japanese warriors was The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. The image had been known in Japan since the ninth century (Murase 2000,177). This version was created by the Japanese Zen monk-painter Sesson Shukei and depicts the legendary group of aged, Confucian-trained civil servants who escape from their stressful jobs to drink massive quantities of wine, dance about, and compose poetry in the seclusion of a bamboo forest, In this unusual Japanese interpretation, women and children also appear. Although images such as this seemingly contradicted the obligatory requirements of service to one's warrior overlord in Japan, their popularity increased in the late sixteenth century as artists and patrons reinterpreted the underlying Chinese message of protest against a stultifying political order as one that simply celebrated an aesthetic pastime.
Few in the West know of the existence of a formal Japan-tea ritual for green leaf tea (senchado, the "way of sencha") or dmt m the first half of the nineteenth century this ritual surpassed the older chanoyu tea ceremony in popularity. Westerners are also largely unaware that senchado remains a living tradition practiced by many thousands today in Japan, In sencha tea ceremonies, hosts steep tea in tiny teapots and serve it to guests in delicate cup (fig. 3,3).
The sencha ceremony developed and quickly gained a following in the second half of the eighteenth century among intellectuals who admired Chinese culture. By the early nineteenth century, emulating Chinese intellectual pastimes was wildly popular among the general population, and the popularity of sencha soared. Its relegation to comparative obscurity by the early twentieth century reflected a momentous shift in the Japanese consciousness, with the center of the nations intellectual universe swinging away from China and toward the West in the late nineteenth century. The lack of familiarity with the sencha tea ceremony outside of Japan today stains largely from the perceived primacy of chanoyu as exemplar of pure Japanese aesthetic and cultural values, an idea that developed during the late nineteenth century, when the nation sought to distance itself (from its centuries-long adulation of China. Since that time, prominent politicians, Scholars, and collectors, in collaboration with Japans tea school headmasters, have been engaged in promoting chanoyu and perpetuating carefully constructed myths designed to maintain its elite status.
Until quite recently, most on the tea ceremony in Japan's cultural history has overemphasized the role of chanoyu in the early modern period (coinciding with the Tokugawa or Edo period, 1615-1868). as well as the Chinese or Chinese - style arts created and appreciated within its orbit, played an important part in shaping early modem culture. In 1998, reflecting this new-found appreciation, Yamada jozan (1924-2005) became the first potter specializing in sencha wares to be designated a Living National Treasure.
Discussion of sencha serves as a point of departure for observing broader sociocultural issues including the mechanisms by which Japan adopts a foreign custom; Japan's changing relationship with China and how it has affected the popularity of this Chinese-influenced custom; the practical ramifications of cultural absorption of a pursuit like tea drinking - how this simple act stimulated the production of new and varied types of material culture; and how art and the related issue of aesthetic taste become integrally tied to larger social issues, especially the formation of personal and collective cultural identity.
Chinese Literati Culture in Premodern Japan
The sencha tea ceremony is the result of many centuries of admiration for Chinese learning in Japan. Premodern Japan was essentially bilingual (Smits 2007,105). Beginning in the seventh century, literate Japanese - aristocrats, elite samurai, and Buddhist priests - learned to read and write in Chinese as well as Japanese and were taught to appreciate Chinese artifacts. Imported Chinese documents included legal codes, Buddhist texts, treatises on philosophy, and literary writings. Much of the imported literature expressed the ideals of the Chinese literati, whose tenets encompassed the complementary spiritual and ethical traditions of Daoism and Confucianism, both introduced in the seventh century.
Chinese literati typically upheld a Confucian-derived moral obligation to help better society through government service or teaching but paradoxically yearned for a Daoist reclusive life apart from worldly affairs. Since ancient times, literati had vowed to serve only fair and compassionate monarchs, When they disagreed with authorities, they often retreated into lives of reclusion. In their poetry, prose, and paintings, the Chinese literati extolled the spiritual and medicinal benefits of tea, which they consumed as an adjunct to their erudite lifestyles,
In the Muromachi period (139a-1568), Chinese literati philosophy had an especially strong impact on the elite warriors who controlled Japan because of the warriors, close relationship with Chinese Chan (Zen in Japanese) monks and traders. The writing of Chinese literati imported to Japan during this time - together with Chan Buddhism and writings by Japanese admirers of Chinese culture - frequently mentioned tea using the term sencha (Joichi 2007). Paintings created for the warriors of sixteenth-century Japan abound with images of Confucian sages and Daoist recluses (fig. 3.1; Brown 1997; Watsky 2006),
In the seventeenth century, after decades of internal strife among regional warrior clans, warlords of the Tokugawa clan established themselves as the supreme military commanders, or shoguns, and unified the country. To secure their hegemony, they created a strict social hierarchy that classified citizens into status groups according to their birth, ranking their own group, samurai warriors, above others that included farmers and urban merchants. By the late seventeenth century they had begun encouraging all citizens to study Confucianism because that creed specified each person's function in society and thereby helped instill in their subjects a moral rationale for submission to authority. Ironically however, this encouragement of Confucianism stimulated curiosity about other, nonsanctioned interpretations of Chinese intellectual thought, including that associated with heterodox literati. Soon, Japanese scholars and writers who disagreed with the Confucion policies promulgated by the shoguns championed the penchant of the literati for reclusion as a symbol of their marginalization.
Because political instability in China and legal restrictions by Japanese authorities made it impossible for Japanese to visit China throughout most of the Tokugawa period, they had to glean knowledge of Chinese philosophy and customs from imported books and contact with Chinese citizens, including amateur and professional artists who emigrated to Japan or established temporary residence there as merchants (Jansen 1992; Addiss 1986). Nagasaki, Japans sole legally sanctioned international port between 1635 and 1859, became the initial conduit for most of this knowledge (Graham 1998, 24-38; Itabashi Kuritsu Kyodo Shiryokan 1996). Circulation of illustrated woodblock-printed books and larger, single-sheet prints by Japanese artists beginning in the eighteenth century helped familiarize Japanese citizens who could not: visit Nagasaki with the large Chinese community there, which included scholars. Many of these prints, including an early nineteenth-century example by a Japanese artist (fig, 3.4), included images of sencha accoutrements. The shoguns allowed only a small number of Nagasaki's Chinese residents to reside elsewhere in Japan, including a group of emigrant Chinese Chan monks who founded a new sect of Zen called Obaku.
These Obaku monks came to Japan to flee the turmoil that arose in China around the time the Qing dynasty Manchus vanquished the Ming Empire in 1644. The shoguns took the unprecedented measure of permitting them to establish a new temple, Manpukuji in Uji, near Kyoto, in 1663. Soon thereafter they founded branch temples throughout the country. Obaku's charismatic monks bolstered the sect's broad appeal and succeeded in converting large numbers of followers. Beyond the persuasiveness of their religious doctrine, the Obaku monks attracted attention because of their education in Chinese literati traditions, about which eager students in Japan desired to learn. Because they drank sencha during religious rituals and more informally throughout the day, the tea became so closely identified with the monks that it became popularly known as "Ingen cha" (Ingen tea) after the sect's patriarch Ingen (Yinyuan in Chinese, 1592-1673), who became regarded as the founder of the sencha ceremony in Japan. It was not until around 1735, however, that Japanese tea manufacturcrs near Manpukuji in Uji began to widely produce sencha.
As part of their efforts to legitimize their Zen lineage and gain converts from other Japanese Buddhist sects, the Obaku monks asserted the spiritual supremacy of the leaf tea they ikank over the more familiar powdered tea of chanoyu, closely associated with older Japanese Zen sects. The Japanese-born Obaku monk Gettan Docho (X636-1713), a direct disciple of logen, first articulated the Obaku position on tea in a lengthy prose-poem, Sencha uta (Ode to Sencba) of circa 1694, which was included in his book of 1703, Gankyoko (Manuscript of the Rock Dweller) .
Tea from Jiangnan is excellent.
Better than other teas, it has a wonderful flavor. Not only can it drive away the devil of sleep But because it also dispels heat and thirst it is the elixir of immortals.
Ever since Lu Yu loved tea, It was planted everywhere throughout the Tang dynasty.
Mengding and Jiangxi are two of the best varieties of tea;
Wuyi and Guzhu are also famous.
I only regret that it is not grown in Jugan, And not a single word has been written about it therein Sangyu and Zhenggu people appreciate tea.
A festival of processing tea has taken place there since the time of emperor Noudi.
Eisai brought the famous tea seeds and shared them with the monk Koben [Myoe] at Umeoka [Takao].
There, the valleys are deep, the dew is pure and the tea leaves grow in profusion.
They arc both bitter and sweet and make the tongue feel cool.
Akamatsu Enshin liked the taste, the great monk [and painter; see fig. 3.1] Sesson composed lengthy poems praising tea.
When mountain tea was measured out as a treat to official lay guests,
Visitors on horseback stirred the dust up to the white clouds.
Then the shogun living at Rokuonji [Kinkakuji] appeared
And ordered his official Yoshihiro to plant Uji tea.
The fertile land stretches up to my home.
Field after field of tea creates broad green spaces.
The locals trade it to make a living and care for the tea plants as if they are precious jade.
They cultivate them and trim them diligently, and fear the possibility of frost coming at night.
When the time of the Qingming festival approaches [early March], the weather is warm.
Spring thunder awakens the insects and the tea shoots emerge.
Crowds gather, picking tea to the beating of drums.
The tender leaves fill the baskets and are selected, roasted, and prepared with great care.
The first cup is offered to the Shogun,
Who can resist the famous teas, "Sparrow's Tongue" and "Dragon's Body?"
The teas "Falling Mortar" and "Jade Dust" appear light gold.
The fire roars in the brazier signaling that springtime is filling the room.
In the iron kettle, the water boils into bubbles shaped like duck eyes.
The green tea fills up the Korean tea cup.
Guests drink in turn and exclaim that the taste is like nectar.
The calligraphy and painting on the walls are precious works by the monks Xigeng and Muxi.
They have been studied and imitated for eons.
Notable among the followers of wabi are J66 and Shuk6.
Samurai in fine clothing crowd into the tea room.
Yet rural recluses also appreciate tea.
These humble men do not approve of attending expensive tea gatherings;
They prefer simplicity and dwell in mountain huts.
By Lake Biwa, someone is brewing sencha.
The aroma of the brewing leaves seeps out of the pot.
Neither tea scoops nor whisks are needed.
Tea is brewed strong and drunk to moisten the bowels.
After three cups his spirits are elevated,
And he leans on the windowsill to listen to the reed flute.
Zen monk friends pass by and inquire about what is taking place there.
They are shown tea cups as an answer,Zhaozhou liked to test his visitors.
They understood his bluntness and accepted the consequences.
Other people can compete for entry into the immortal land of Lu Tong, I am content to brag about my own fine home, [translation mine; cited in Graham 1998,55-56]
The poem portrays sencha as better than cbancyu because as followers of the latter formalized their ceremony, they came to disregard the importance that early Japanese Zen monks had placed on the spiritual benefits derived from tea. Instead the practice had become an avocation celebrating an ostentatious display of material possessions. Gettan noted that only humble recluses who drank sencha (by implication the Obaku monks themselves) understood the spiritual value of drinking tea as transmitted from the ancients.
The defiant position of the Obaku monks, who left their homeland in protest for a life of reclusion in Japan, resonated with admirers of the Chinese literati, who emerged in the mid-seventeenth century, around the time the monks arrived in Nagasaki, One of the earliest of these admirers Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1670) came from a family of samurai loyal to the Tokugawa clan. When he was in his early fifties, after heroic service in the civil wars that led to the Tokugawa victory, dissatisfaction with the life of a warrior compelled Jozan to retire to Kyoto, where he settled in a rural retreat to write Chinese poetry and study the writings of the Chinese literati (Rimer et al. 1991). His elegant but rustic residence, the Shisendo (Abode of the Poetry Immortals), a reference to Chinese rather than Japanese poets, serves as a model for later sencha tea rooms (fig, 3.5), Its informal and open plan centered around a raked gravel garden contrasts sharply with the characteristic small, closed spaces of chanoyu tea rooms. Jozan was revered as the founder of the literati tradition in Japan, but sencha followers came to consider him as their spiritual progenitor as well (Anjoshi Rekishi Hakubutsukan 2007). This latter development is somewhat ironic, however, for although he aspired to the life of a Chinese literatus and knew of the Obaku monks and their tea-drinking traditions, scholars have not uncovered evidence that Jozan himself actually drank sencha (Graham 1998,57-63; Otsuki 2004,247-59).
Jozan's descriptions of his life of seclusion are permeated by the spirit of furyu (lit., "floating with the wind"), a word derived from the Chinese term fengliu, which had entered the Japanese vocabulary by the eighth century and originally carried associations of courtly elegance and refinement. As the wabi aesthetic of chanoyu gained ascendance, especially from the time of Sen no Rikyu (1522—1591), however, the meaning of furyu shifted to conform with wabi ideals (for a discussion of wabi, see Hirota, this volume), The famed Kyoto poet Matsuo Bashd (1644-1694) also emphasized this concept, Furyu, as interpreted by both Jdzan and Bashd, derived from their familiarity with Chinese writings. To them, furyu implied a deep understanding of Chinese literati culture, preferences for wanderlust and an eremitic withdrawal from the world, and devotion to simple pleasures, as epitomized by literati models such as the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove (see fig. 3.1). Jozan's and Basho's usage of the term became the guiding principle and daminating aesthetic in the sencha tea ceremony.
Basho had developed his ideas about furyu from his close study of Daoism (Qiu 2005). Others of his time also began exploring this philosophy. The influential Kyoto Confucian philosopher Ogyu Sorai (1666-1728), incorporated Daoist concepts of ki （"marvelousnes," "strangeness," or "eccentricity") and ga (elegance) into his ideas about Confucianism. He promoted ki in his stress on personal spiritual cultivation, noting that each person should develop his innate talents and inclinations as a way to reach his moral center. He qualified this emphasis on individualism, however, with the assertion that personal activities should be elegant (ga), a term used interchangeably with furyu. Following his dictum, individuals with similar interests banded together in coteries often centering on a pivotal figure. Their avocations, inspired by those of the Chinese literati, included participatory group events featuring painting Chinese-style pictures, composing impromptu poems, playing the qin (a zither-like instrument), and admiring antiquities, Sencha drinking flourished in this environment.
As literacy increased during the Tokugawa period, appreciation for Chinese learning deeply permeated Japanese culture. Numerous writers grew famous for their Chinese-language poetry inspired by the literati (Watson 1976; 1990), while others published woodblock-printed books that provided practical information for aspiring Japanese followers of the Chinese literati. Oeda Ryuho (?-ca. 1756), the son of a wealthy Osaka merchant, wrote the first of many such guides, Gayu manroku (Miscellaneous Records of Elegant Pastimes) , posthumously published in 1762. It instructed readers in the creation of a proper literati environment. The preface described how Ryuho had pursued the reclusive life of Chinese Daoist sages in his youth and clarified that although he eventually returned to the city, he continued to devote himself to scholarly pursuits. Within his book's seven volumes, he lovingly described and illustrated assorted literati objects in a Japanese vernacular text liberally sprinkled with quotations in Chinese (fig. 3.6).
Soon after Ryuho's work was published, Chinese literati themes became familiar in paintings by artists of diverse ateliers throughout Japan's major urban centers (Graham 2001). Typical of such works is a scroll by Nakabayashi Chikkei (1816-1867), an artist who specialized in paintings in Chinese literati styles (fig. 3.7). He learned about literati ways from one of his painting teachers, Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783-1856), a specialist in Japanese literati-style painting, a famous connoisseur of Chinese paintings and antiquities, and a central figure in the promotion of sencha (Graham 1983; 1986). Beginning in the 1830s, Baiitsu and his friends frequently gathered to examine each others Chinese art collections, all the while drinking sencha. Baiitsu initiated a Japanese literati tradition, which lasted until the early twentieth century, of recording for posterity descriptions of the Chinese arts displayed at these gatherings and the appearance of the rooms in which they were featured (Miyazaki 1996). These rooms, unlike those used for chanoyu, functioned mainly as painting or writing studios for their owners, or as elegant reception rooms for guests (much like the expansive room in Ishikawa Jozan's residence, see fig. 3.5), As portrayed in two sketches that Baiitsu brushed of his own studio, these rooms would be decorated with Chinese furniture, paintings, and decorative objects with sencha accoutrements prominently displayed (figs. 3.8a,b).
Sometimes, more formal or larger group gatherings of literati aficionados took place at restaurants or teahouses in urban entertainment districts. For one party held in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1838, an illustrated woodblock-printed book was produced as a memento for partygoers and friends unable to attend (fig. 3.9). It captures the informal atmosphere in which guests mingled admiring each others' treasures, primarily sencha implements.
Such gatherings served as the first exhibitions of Chinese literati-style arts in Japan revealing that interest in Chinese literati philosophy and pastimes went hand-in-hand with appreciation of sencha. Sencha played such a prominent role in the assimilation of Chinese literati culture in Japan largely due to one individual, Baisao (lit., "the old tea seller,"[1675-1763]; formally known as Ko Yugai), an eccentric, enigmatic, Japanese-born follower of Obaku Zen, who ceaselessly championed tea's spiritual and medicinal benefits (Baisao and Waddell 2008).
Formation of the Sencha Tea Ceremony
The shoguns mandated the participation of samurai in formal rituals, including chanoyu, in order to differentiate them from other status groups. Japanese citizens reacted to the close association of chanoyu with the shoguns in two ways. Some better-educated urban commoners, following the lead of wealthy sixteenth-century merchants, created their own chanoyu ceremonies to signify their cultural sophistication even though they were effectively blocked from any upward mobility. Others, principally intellectuals of various status groups who admired the Chinese literati—for example, samurai scholars, well-educated merchants, and bohemian artists一considered the shoguns' regime repressive and responded by decrying chanoyu as pretentious (Graham 1998,56,75-76; Varley and Kumakura 1989,174-76). Many in this group began to drink sencha, which had no mandated rules of etiquette. Sencha was attractive because of its association with their Chinese literati heroes and its potential as a symbol of resistance to the shoguns. Many of these sencha drinkers coalesced around the person of Baisao.
Later followers of senchu embraced Baisao with as much fervor as aficionados of chanoyu demonstrated for Sen no Rikyu. Unlike Rikyu, however, Baisao did not consider himself a tea master, just a purveyor of sencha, He also became well known for his Chinese poetry based on literati themes and sencha. The son of a physician from western Japan near Nagasaki, he joined a branch temple of the Obaku sect near his home at age twelve, soon after the death of his father. After visiting Manpukuji and other Obaku temples in search of spiritual guidance and serving for a time as steward at his home temple, he moved to the Kyoto area in 1724 and resided for a time at Manpukuji. After he left Manpukuji in 1730 and until the time of his death, he lived in Kyoto, earning his living not as a Zen priest but as an itinerant seller of sencha, which he offered from a portable bamboo stall that he carried on his back and set up at Kyoto's famous scenic spots. The attraction of his stall for passersby was not only the flavor ot title tea but also the beguiling messages of its purveyor He called his tea stall Tsutentei (Pavilion along the Pathway to the Immortals) and his tea utensil basket Senka (Den of the Sages), both allusions to the Chinese literati, Alongside his tea stall, Baisao hung a banner inscribed with the characters "seifu," an abbreviation of the term sei-furyu (pure elegance), to express the literati values that he felt sencha embodied.
One of his poems persuasively describes the reasons he thought prospective customers should drink his sencha:
This place of mine, so poor,I'm often even out of water;
But I offer you an elixir, To change your very marrow.
You'll find me in the pines, By the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas,
Come take a drink - who knows? You may reach Sagehood yourself.
[translation by Norman Waddell; cited in Graham (1998,70)]
Not surprisingly, Baisad attracted a devoted coterie of admirers among the many followers of Chinese learning in Kyoto and neighboring Osaka (Kano 2005). Prominent among was Kimura Kenkado (1736-1802), a former Osaka sake brewer who, after having his fortune confiscated by the authorities, opened a stationery shop that became a gathering place for the prominent writers and artists of his day. Kenkado was famous for his vast collection of Chinese books and botanicals, and he was also a talented amateur painter in the literati mode. Another of Baisao's admirers, the celebrated painter Ito Jakuchu (1733-1800), brushed several portraits of his mentor, including one that shows the old tea seller gating into the distance, wearing the robe of a Daoist priest and carrying the took of his trade on his back (fig, 3.10).
During his lifetime and shortly after his death* Baisad's disciples began the process of transforming the drinking of sencha from an informal pastime into a ritualized custom, Oeda Ryuho, in addition to penning the first guide to literati culture in Japan (see fig.3.6), authored the first manual on sencha appreciation, Seiwan chawa (Chats on Tea by the Azure Harbor), published in 1756. Very quickly, many other guides to sencha appeared, some authored by Baisao's immediate followers, others by less-intimate admirers, and still others by disciples of his close followers.8 By the early nineteenth century, some authors of these guides began using terminology borrowed from cha in Japan (see fig.3.6), authored the first manual on sencha appreciation, Seiwan chawa (Chats on Tea by the Azure Harbor), published in 1756. Very quickly, many other guides to sencha appeared, some authored by Baisao's immediate followers, others by less-intimate admirers, and still others by disciples of his close followers. By the early nineteenth century, some authors of these guides began using terminology borrowed from cha noyu. Although this may seem incongruous given the earlier antagonism between these two tea ceremonies, chanoyu was by far the more widely known and practiced. It was logical therefore that the promoters of sencha would appropriate familiar terminology to describe their own tea ritual.
Balsad's closest friends, meanwhile, took the lead in defining appropriate utensil types. As a frugal monk, Baisao lived simply with few possessions, and though he stressed the flavor of his tea, he deeply revered the small assortment of Chinese tea-making paraphernalia that he owned. He directed that some pieces should be burned after his death but bequeathed others to his closest friends, who likewise treasured them. This begat the preference of his admirers for preparing sencha using only tea utensils that resembled those of Baisao, either imports from China or wares made to their specifications by Japanese artists.
The published sencha manuals and the avowed preferences for certain utensil types began the process of transforming sencha into a distinctly Japanese tea ritual. They helped increase market demands for sencha utensils and arts reflecting literati taste, resulting in the creation of opportunities for artists to specialize in the production of sencha serving utensils and to produce paintings and other decorative arts - such as bamboo flower baskets in Chinese literati styles—appropriate for display at sencha gatherings (Graham 1999,2002).
The Sencha Boom in Nineteenth-Century Japan
The aforementioned Kimura Kenkado played a large role in Baisao's apotheosis md the formalization of the sencha tradition by commissioning copies of Baisao's tea wares from Japanese artists and by creating an illustrated record of Baisao's utensils. First produced as a handwritten sketchbook, it survives today in an expanded woodblock-printed album of 1823 with illustrations (most copied from Kenkado's sketches) by Aoki Shukuya (ca.1737-1802), a disciple of another of Baisao's
friends (fig. 3.11). Inscriptions alongside each picture record the identity of the object's owner, As noted in the album, many of of an aficionado of the Chinese literati known as the Master of Hermitage of Flowers and Meadows), the artist name of Tanaka Kakud (1782-1848), Kakuo, an Osaka sake brewer, founded the first formal seneba tea ceremony school.
The most famous object illustrated in this album is a seventcenth-century Chinese stoneware teapot (second from right in fig.3.11,with two cups), which baisao presented just before his dead) in 1763 to his friend Ike Taiga (1733-1776), Shukuya's teacher. Baisao's followers identified it enormously as a product of the famous Yixing kilns of China. This mistake reflects the fact that although imported books on Ming material culture lauded Yixing wares, sencha fans had few opportunities to see actual examples as these were not imported in great numbers until several decades later (Itabashi Kuritsu Kyodo Shiryokan 1996), Baisao's teapot was actually a more common, unglazed, side-handled stoneware vessel, known as a "kyUsu" in Japanese and utilised in China for brewing medicinal herbs.
Because of Baisao, unglazed side-handled teapots became a popular import to Japan, and Japanese potters frequently copied them.
Baisao also owned some Chinese porcelain tea cups (see fig, 3.11, adjacent to the famous teapot), decorated with simple designs of tea plants in underglaze blue. Although these porcelains were more refined and elegant in appearance than the teapot, they also represented commonly produced types of ceramics. Baisao must have liked them for their simple monochromatic designs一a juryu aesthetic—that resembled literati ink paintings. Baisao's preference for this underglaze blue ware resulted in its popularity for sencha tea utensils (fig. 3.12).
Because Baisao and many members of his coterie resided in Kyoto, that city became the first locus of production for sencha utensils. The Kyoto potter Aoki Mokubei (1767-1833) was the first to specialize in wares for sencha. He copied Baisaos kyusu illustrated in Shukuya's album (Graham 1998, fig. 38) and produced many porcelain wares with underglaze blue designs. He was also responsible for augmenting Baisao's meager repertoire of utensils with new types based on his study of various Chinese ceramic vessel glazes and designs. By chance he arned how to recreate these from Chinese pottery manuals that he encountered in the library of his acquaintance Kimura Kenkado, One of the most popular new types of shencha wares he devised was kinrande (gold brocade) with overglaze red enamel and gold leaf decoration (fig. 3.13). Examples of Chinese wares with this glaze were already admired in Japan, having first gained popularity in seventeenth-century chanoyu circles, but Mokubei was the first to apply the glaze to ceramics used for sencha.
Mokubei, a connoisseur of Chinese antiquities and an amateur literati painter, was an avid fan of senega himself, He often made tea wares for use at sencha gatherings he hosted. His last, ill-fated, project was for a large group of teapots and cups that he intends to distribute to one hundred guests of a sencha gathering he planned for the early spring of 1833 in Kyoto. Unfortunately^ he had trouble with the firing process, fell ill from the effort, and passed away before completing the pieces. His daughter distributed finished pieces to friends at his funeral instead. Some of these unglazed mold-made teapots still survive (fig, 3.14). They feature a four-character inscription in raised relief, Minun shiseki (Sleeping among Clouds, Crawling in the Rocks), an oblique reference to Chinese literati who sought refuge from the difficulties of the world by dwelling in seclusion in mist-drenched mountains.
In 1835, shortly after Mokubei died, sencha popularity surged following the invention of a new growing and processing technique for green tea. This resulted in the creation of a new and even more flavorful variety of tea, gyokuro. It was following the introduction of gyokuro that the previously mentioned Tanaka Kakuo came to play a pivotal role in the establishment of a formal senega tea ceremony. A devotee of Obaku Zen, Kakuo became famous for the fine flavor of his sencha, as seen in a small woodblock book on the meaning of fUryu to various Osaka luminaries (fig, 3.15). Kakuo considered sencha his path to spiritual communion with the ideals of the Chinese literati, and his tea owed it6 delicate taste to his recognition that the flavor of gyokuro could be further enhanced by systematic preparation and using only the purest water.
Kakuo outlined tea preparation methods according to differences in settings, social situations, levels of formality, varieties of utensils, and how each of these points related to two distinct tea brewing methods. One of these, encha, entailed first placing tea leaves in a teapot and then filing the pot with hot water. The other method (which Baisao had used) was essentially the reverse: tea leaves were thrown into a teapot already filled with hot water. Kakuo's success at tea brewing stemmed from knowledge gained in the management of his family's sake business, By 1838, Kakuo began calling himself iemoto (headmaster) of Kagetsuan (now the name of the sencha tea school he founded), and he began teaching people his tea preparation method, which he refined and adapted to accord with the wide variety of sencha serving utensils utensils that had come to be used in different social circumstances. He recorded his instructions for preparing sencha in a secret manuscript that late nineteenth century. His was the first of many such guides to sencha that borrowed cbanoyu terminology for distinguishing variations in serving procedures and utensils depending on the of formality of the occasion. From this time on, interest in sencha surged among diverse social groups, including com-(metiers, courtiers, and elite samurai who had formerly only participated in chanoyu. Soon, in response to growing interest in sencha and associated literati aesthetics, other knowledgeable literati began to teach sencha etiquette as professional sencha tea masters. Following the literati emphasis on individuality, they desired to create their own unique preparation methods, setting the stage for the establishment of numerous schools of sencha.
The Sencha Tea Ceremony in Modern Japan
After the demise of the Tokugawa government in 1868, literati-style sencha gatherings continued, sometimes in conjunction with new government-sponsored public exhibitions of Chinese arts . Principal participants and organizers of the pub-lie events included prominent art dealers, businessmen, and politicians who had themselves studied the values of sencha and literati arts in their youths (Guth 2006; Graham 2003; Seikado Bunko Bijutsukan 1998). The most prominent among the new generation of sencha enthusiasts attended the Seiwan chakai (Azure Sea Tea Gathering), a multiday extravaganza held in Osaka in 1874, which featured suites of rooms both as sites of tea ceremonies and as model environments for display of Chinese antiquities, Tanomura Chokunyu (1814-1907), the leading literati painter and scholar at the time, illustrated a woodblock-printed book depicting this event (fig. 3.16).
Chokunyu's younger friend, Tomioka Tessai (1836—1924), the most important literati painter of the modem era, was one of many who continued to promote Chinese learning in the late Meiji era (1868-1912), when Japan had turned its attention to the West. Admiration for China had waned in the midnineteenth century, when the Japanese observed China's economic collapse as a result of humiliating defeats at the hands of British, French, Russian, and American forces, as well as the increasing inability of the Qing emperors to quell peasant rebellions. After American warships under the direction of Commodore Perry sailed into Yokohama Bay in 1858 and forced Japan to allow more international trade, the Japanese government—particularly after the Meiji Restoration of 1868_sought rapidly to industrialize following Western models in order to avoid the fate of China and to be able to successfully compete in global markets. Nevertheless, the Chinese literati values of sencha had become so assimilated that they contributed to the shaping of Japan's modern national identity as self-proclaimed preserver of East Asian wisdom in the early twentieth century. This change in attitude is evident in Tessai's scroll of Blind Men Critiquing Beauty, completed Although the sencha tea ceremony ultimately absorbed many structural elements from chanoyu, its underlying aesthetic stems from a very different source, that of the introspective Chinese literati, who sought spiritual fulfillment through communing with nature and strove to express their individuality and spark their intellectual curiosity in morally uplifting pastimes. Sencha played an important role in bringing the world of the Chinese literati to life in Japan. In the process of so doing, however, its followers invariably altered its nature as they incorporated Japanese inclinations for ritual and order. Still, elements of the original Chinese literati spirit remain in the appearance of the accouterments and room furnishings of sencha^ and even in the institutional structure of its tea schools. More than fifty autonomous schools of sencha flourish throughout the country today. Many are led by women, a situation unheard of within the chanoyu establishment, and many retain association with Obaku Zen through their membership in a seneba association at the Obaku head temple of Manpukuji.