Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A drink and dream teahouse

When (and if) I ever manager to buy a house, I'd like to build a teahouse in the garden.


A typical tea house is surrounded by a small garden. In the garden there will also be a waiting area for guests, as well as a roji, or "dewy path", leading to the tea house. The tea house itself is usually built of wood and bamboo, and the only entrance and exit is a small, square door which symbolically separates the small, simple, quiet inside from the crowded, overwhelming outside world, and encourages humility in the host and guests, as all must kneel to enter the room. Tea houses usually consist of two rooms, one used for the preparation of food, snacks and tea supplies, and the other for the holding of the tea ceremony itself. The main room is typically extremely small, often 4 1/2 tatami mats, and the ceilings are low. There is no furniture, except what is required for the preparation of tea. There will usually be a charcoal pit in the centre of the room for boiling water for tea.

Guests and hosts sit seiza style on the floor. There is usually little decoration. There will be a tokonoma (scroll alcove) holding a scroll of calligraphy or brush painting, and perhaps a simple, small flower arrangement called cha-bana. All materials used are purposely simple and rustic.

It is usual for chashitsu to be named by their owners or benefactors. Names usually include the character for "hut", "hall," or "arbour," and reflect the spirit of rustic simplicity of tea ceremony and the teachings of Zen Buddhism. Characteristic names include:

Fushin-an (Doubting Hut)
Mugai-an (Introvert Hut)
Mokurai-an (Silent Thunder Hut)
Tokyū-dō (East-Seeking Hall)
Shō-an (Pine Hut)
Ichimoku-an (One Tree Hut)
Rokusō-an (Six Window Hut)
Bōji-tei (Forgotten Path Arbour)

Isn't that beautiful?

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