Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tea and Blood

Many people enjoy the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which is Japanese traditional way of tea started in the 15 century. It has a strict way for preparing and tasting tea, so it might be looked like a kind of ritual. It is one of reasons why they take the strict way that they practice it as like a sport, so they learn how to control their behavior, take concentration, or make beauty of their movement through it. They not only enjoy practicing the way of tea but also love artistic tea utensils and many variety of things, for example scroll picture, follower setting, the form of tea room and Japanese garden. They love talking about what are made careful selection of in the tea ceremony, and someone make them by themselves. Therefore, the Japanese tea ceremony is a kind of culture. This culture has been learned, followed and improved for a long time in Japan.

The other day, I explained this culture to my English teacher. I had difficulty for it, because she was a Filipina who teach me English from Cebu through the Internet. This lesson used the real-time online video chat, so we could have talk interactively. I told her about the tea ceremony in English, and if she had some questions, I answered them there and then.

When I finished my explanation, I asked her if there is a similar culture of the Japanese tea ceremony in the Philippines. She had a few seconds for thinking, and said that it resembled a "blood compact". I asked her what was a blood compact. She told it was a kind of ritual for unity of citizens in the fight against something. They drink their blood each other as a ritual.

At first, I thought that it didn't resemble the Japanese tea ceremony at all, because I thought the blood compact was very eccentric and barbaric, but the tea ceremony was neat and elegant. However, in a while, I changed the mind and figured out that she was right.

The culture of Japanese tea ceremony began at 15 century. Actually, there was a lot of provincial war in Japan at this period, so to say the age of civil wars. Despite many battles, some shoguns like practicing the tea ceremony, building the their own unique tea room and collecting favorite goods for it. The most powerful shogun, Hideyoshi Toyotomi hired a person who was a famous tea ceremony master. His name was Sen-no Rikyu. He established the form of the tea ceremony, as we modern people know it.

Shoguns had some reasons to do the tea ceremony. It was not only enjoyable for them but also it was a kind of their status symbol, and useful for practicing keeping their cool and concentration. Additionally, I think that it was like a tool for improving human relationship. They must have invited their fellows or the person who might become enemies in the future. They tried to develop their mutual understanding through drinking tea in spite of blood. Traditional tea room have Nijiri-guchi and Katana-kake. Nijiri-guchi is a very small entrance. Everyone who is getting in the room has to bend down. It showed they had no battling spirit there. Katana-kake is a hook of swords. It must be at the outside of the tea room, so they have to leave any weapon in the tea room. These things show warriors improved just their relation through the tea ceremony. I think that it was not to make contract for unity like as a blood compact, but it is similar to the blood compact on a point of view as a kind of ritual for developing human relation. It began originally at such a period of civil war in Japan.