Although Japanese sado is originated in China, it has its distinct characters of Japan and unique meaning. Rooted in the daily life, Japanese sado is a comprehensive cultural and art activity combing daily behaviors, religion, philosophy, ethics and aesthetics.
The definition "sado is a comprehensive cultural system" raised by an expert Hisamastu Shinichi has won universal agreements. Another expert Kuwada Nakaoya believes that "sado is no longer the plain interest and entertainment only. It has developed into the standard and ideal of Japanese daily life and culture". Generated from the oriental culture, Japanese sado fully performs it.
Requirements on Environment
Buddhism is the ideological background of Japanese sado and Zen is its core. Zen's thinking and form has impact on most sectors of Japanese culture including: architecture, garden, music, calligraphy, marital art and design of the building that in particular for sado service.
Japanese teahouse consists of tearoom, the room for store water, porch and rain road (an open- air road) connecting tearoom and porch. It is constructed only by soil, sands, wood, bamboos and other construction material with its surface without polishing. Therefore Japanese teahouse is also called "cottage" or the "room of empty". Many unique structures exist in Japanese teahouse, such as wall, little entrance requiring kneeling into, unbalanced architectural structures windows that near the bottom of wall and windows made by bamboo.
Niche. In his book the Book of Tea, Okakura Tenshin asserts that "the plain and pure of teahouse is a copy of Buddha hall". It is necessary in every teahouse and thought to be divine. After entering the room, people should first keel down before the niche to pay their topmost tribute to it and read the ink writing of Buddhist Zen and appreciate tea's flower.
The entrance that only allows kneeling into. The entrance is about 73 cm high and 70 cm wide, made by two and a half used planks, with sash rail inside and nail cap appeared without cover. Therefore there is no privilege that everybody must kneel into the room to feel the state of forgetting their earthly existence.
Unbalanced architectural structures. From surface to inside, the teahouse shows the "unbalanced" beauty everywhere, which reflects Taoism with Buddhist Zen features contained in Japanese sado. In the ideas of Taoism and Zen, the true beauty gain through mentally. Teahouse is designed into the temporal building with fixed time of use. For the thatch roof and common construction material made from delicate bamboo. It is only a cabin in moor or a plain shelter, which is like weeds that may return to wild for its loose banding at any time and meaningless bamboo. All of this expresses the idea of uncertainty.
Windows. A small window is created for special lighting by remaining an area non-plastered. Made of battens and bamboo poles, the window made of bamboo is more solid than the window close to the bottom of wall, can be opened more broadly. The small the teahouse is, the more the windows are, increasing the open feeling of space and also performing sado ideas - "striving to harmony and mean".
Requirements on Drinking
When holding a tea party, Japanese all have an idea of "only meeting this time" that actually reflect the Buddhist "idea of uncertainty". Buddhist idea of uncertainty urges people to cherish every second and things in life. With the belief of "one time in life", hosts and guests value sado and realize that life is like the foam of tea vanishing in a twinkle, from which people resonate with each other, and realize that they are an integrated unit and interdependency and the rich of life.
Japanese sado is in a great variety. In ancient time sado consists of morning tea, afternoon tea, and night tea in accordance with the time of meal. Now there are seven tea ceremony including morning tea, daybreak tea, noon tea, night tea, after-meal tea, theme tea, and temporal tea. Besides, there are tea ceremony for open and close of a forum, for farewell, for enjoy the beauty of snow, for a guest and a host, for looking for the beautiful flowers and for admire the full moon.
Prior in tea party, the host must understand the guests and companies, preparing fine tea, fine water and tea flower, tea biscuits and other food materials. The host should clean up the tearoom and its related garden (tea garden). If guests coming in advance, they should sit in a straw shed of garden to appreciate the garden and the diligent of host. Then they step into the tea room and take seats, which is the first step called "primary sit". The second step is "primary coaling":appreciating the host’s coaling skill. After this, the host offers some tea biscuit. Guests go to the garden for a rest after eating, which is called "a standing in middle time".Guests return to the tearoom again and take seats, which is called "last sit". The last sit is the most important part of tea party. In this step the host provides guests with thick tea, perform coaling, and provide thin tea respectively. Later on, the host and guests say goodbye to each other, the tea party is over.
Tea ceremony demonstrates the process of drinking tea. It is a special ceremony when Japanese are welcoming guests and a form of classical art in Japan. Through tasting the tea, Japanese can exchange ideas and deepen their relationships.
Tea ceremony is not merely about drinking tea itself, but plays a role in exchanging ideas. Besides, it has its own strict procedures and rules, which includes ordering, offering, receiving, tasting, delivering back, selection and evaluation of Japanese tea sets as well as the ornaments in the tea house. These aspects shall all follow certain rules.
Tea ceremony in Japan is widely known in households. There are about 10 million people practicing it, accounting for 10% if Japan's total population.
Tea is more than a beverage in Japan; it is a way to express thoughts and feelings while sipping a relaxing thing. Tea ceremony in Japan has miscellaneous protocols. For instances, tea shall be fully grinded, Japanese tea sets shall be wiped clean, flower arrangement shall give considerations to seasons, and to guests' reputation, social status, generation, age and cultural literacy. The operation of the host when making tea shall be quick and follow the standards, additionally, it must has rhythm like dance, feeling of detached from the world, and be precise at the same time. All these protocols are designed to show respect to guests, representing the spirits of "harmony and respect". Japanese tea ceremony can be summarized by four words, namely "harmony, respect, pureness, quietness", enabling itself to become a cultural and artistic activity combining religion, philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics.
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