Why ceremonies are so important to people

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Why ceremonies are so important to people

History of the Japanese Tea Ceremony Drinking of green tea was known in China from the fourth century. In the eighth century the first mention of a formal ceremony involving the drinking of tea is found. Also, during the eighth century a Chinese Buddhist priest wrote a book on the proper method of preparing tea.

During the Nara period Japan tea plants were grown in Japan and mainly consumed by priests and noblemen as medicine. Toward the end of the Tang dynasty in China, the drinking of tea was going through a transformation from medicine to beverage, but due to deteriorating relations between the two countries this transformation did not reach Japan till much later.

The Japanese were forced to mold and cultivate their own traditions and culture around the tea.

Why ceremonies are so important to people

Tea was a rare and valuable commodity from the Nara period to the Heian period so rules and formalities were based on this concept. Had tea been native to Japan or more readily available, it is almost certain that the tea ceremony would not have been created. Kamakura period in Japan.

In Myoan Eisai, a Japanese priest, traveled to China to study philosophy and religion. When he came back, he became the founder of Zen Buddhism and build the first temple of the Rinzai sect. It is said that he was the first one to cultivate tea for religious purposes, unlike others before him who grew tea for medicinal use only.

He was also the first to suggest and teach the grinding of tea leaves before adding hot water. These two methods formed the basis for the tea ceremony as we know it today. InEisai was the first to write a treatise on tea in Japan. In his treatise, Kissa Yojoki Tea drinking is good for health Eisai suggested that the drinking of tea had certain health benefits and cures for; loss of appetite, paralysis, beriberi, boils and sickness from tainted water.

According to him it was a cure for all disorders, so this perhaps was the main reason that the Tea Ceremony gained such popularity. Tea in the thirteenth century and the Samurai Tea started to spread outside of the Uji district where it had mainly been grown since the beginning.

But by now popularity and so demand was growing rapidly and called for plantations all around Japan. The samurai class, who loved everything about the Sung dynasty including the Tea ceremony, embraced it wholly and caused even greater popularity of the ritual preparation of green tea.

Inthe Kamakura shogunate fell which led to civil wars in the whole country.

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A new class of people came into existence, the Gekokujou parvenus. These nobles whose extravagant lifestyles attracted much attention from the public, often held tea parties for their friends called Toucha.

In this game the guests were tested on their abilities to distinguish between Honcha genuine tea and other tea. Soon betting accompanied these games and great valuable prices were presented to winners which added to the excitement of the game.

Originally the guests were given ten cups of tea, but this number increases to twenty, thirty and eventually one hundred cups per person. If there was a great number of people attending the party, it would have been impossible to provide every guest with one hundred cups.

Although followed procedures are unknown, the guests probably passed cups from one the next. However strange this habit of sharing might seem to us now, it probably has its roots in the Samurai class.

The Samurai had strong family ties, and when the family would gather on important occasions, it was custom for the lord to take the first sip of Sake from a large cup and then pass it among his retainers as a reaffirmation of their close bonds. Tea ceremony during the Muromachi period During the Muromachi period, Japanese architecture went trough a transformation from the formal palace style adopted in the Heian period, to a simplified style used by the Samurai.

The next transformation was from Samurai style to the Shoin style which used elements of temple architecture.

For the tea ceremony some of the Shoin design details were adopted, such as the alcove Tokonomathe pair of shelves Chigaidana in the side of the alcove, and the side-alcove desk Tsuke-shoin.

Of course Taami mats were used to cover the floor in the Shoin style. The Samurai nobles made it their hobby to perfect the way of decorating the alcove, the shelves in the side alcove. The Shoin desk became fixed, with the aim of arranging a small number of utensils and articles in a way that was aesthetically and functionally.

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Sample Ceremonies