Japanese Tea Ceremony : Matcha in Chakai or Chaji

Tea ceremony is a Japanese cultural activity involving preparing and presentation of Matcha-a powdered green tea, also called “Chanoyu”, Tea gathering are called Chakai or Chaji. Chakai is a simple course of hospitality which includes confections, tea and perhaps a light meal. Chaji is a formal gathering – a full course of meal kaiseki, confections, thick tea, kocha etc.

This practice is started by a Buddhist monk Eichu  who brought Matcha on return from China during tang dynasty 618-907 when the relations and the cultural exchanges between the two countries were at the peak. During Nara period  tea plants are grown and mainly consumed by priests and noblemen, Tea was a rare commodity from Nara to Heian period 794-1192 This was only used on religious rituals in Buddhist Monasteries Later Myoan Eisai , a founder of Zen Budhha during Kamakura period brought seeds  from China on his way back and planted first in Kyoto then become all over in Japan.,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   .He also advocated specific methods to make it ceremonial like grinding the tea leaves before making it and whisking the tea with bambo whisk after pouring hot water in it. So this is how this tea ceremony is started.

By 13 centuries during Kamakura Shogunate, tea and the luxuries associated with it become a kind of status symbol among the warrior class.With the advent Kitayama and  Higashiyama culture during Muramachi period, this ceremonies touched its heights and developed as a transforming practice with the passage of time.This practice of holding social gathering
was spread among the upper class specifically among the nobles during feudal times with the purpose to appreciate painting and crafts imported from China in a serene atmosphere. Under the influence of formalities and manner that regulated the daily life of samurai, there developed certain rules and procedures that participants in tea parties were required to follow and this
was the origin of tea ceremony

By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan.  ichi-go ichi-e, a philosophy that each meeting should be treasured, for it can never be reproduced. Many newly developed forms in architecture and gardens on the basisi of the principles of harmony , respect, purity , and tranquility —have becomel central to tea ceremony.

It began to evolve its own aesthetics in particular that is wabi and sabi.”Wabi” represents the inner, or spiritual, experiences of human lives  Wabi characterized by humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism, profundity imperfection, and asymmetry emphasizes simple, unadorned objects and architectural space, and celebrates the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials Wabi means that even in straitened circumstances no thought of hardship arises. Sabi means to  appreciate the old and weary. The  understanding emptiness was considered the most effective means to spiritual awakening, while embracing imperfection and was honored as a healthy reminder to cherish our unpolished selves, here and now, just as we are – the first step to “satori” or enlightenment.and serenity,

Slowly and gradually it has become aesthetic pastime, a  unique way to fill the emptiness of time and mind by sharing spiritual thoughts and appreciating the material things while  serving and drinking Macha.


There were seven rules for the tea ceremony; –

1. Serve the tea with insight into guest soul.

2. Prepare the charcoal to heat the water best.

3. Make  your guest to feel warm in winter and cool in summer.

4. Arrange the flower so they look like wild flowers

5. Be quick and efficient.

6. Be prepared for rain even on clear day and be attentive towards the guests.

7. In addition to the tea, the appreciation of the utensils, the room decor, simple beauty and tranquilityof garden as well as chemistry between the host and guests are some of the essential elements of the tea ceremony.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 19, 2015 at 5:20 pm Reply

    Thanks for the article. Great video as well!

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