The art and practice of Chado, the Japanese Tea Ceremony
Chanoyu is usually translated “tea ceremony.” It literally means “hot water for tea,” but centuries of Japanese history, literature and culture come together in the study and discipline of making and serving tea. Chanoyu incorporates many of the arts and crafts of Japan with the focus of preparing and serving a bowl of tea with a pure heart.
Tea is more than the collection of objects, or the knowledge of how to make and serve a beverage. There is also a philosophy to tea, which comes partly from centuries of tea masters, and partly from the interactions of the tea ceremony with Zen Buddhism.
The heart of the tea ceremony is not found in the tea, but in the four principles of wa-kei-sei-jaku, or harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. The tranquility comes from learning how to be in harmony with others, respect for others and oneself, and purity in thought and action. These principals act as the foundation of the study of the tea ceremony.
As in most of Japanese culture, the tea ceremony is a discipline that takes a lifetime to master. What is learned in chanoyu leads a person to the things in life that matter beyond the material things–and that is something that is enough for any lifetime.
Issoan Tea School
Issoan means “One Grass Hut” and was named by Genki Takabayashi Roshi. Its name exemplifies the impermanence of the wabi tea aesthetic as well as the moveable nature of structure of the tea room. Issoan Tea School is a place of study for chanoyu. Marjorie “Soya” Yap teaches classes from beginning through advanced in the procedures for making tea as well as aspects of Japanese culture such as sweet making, kimono dressing, incense ceremony, haiku, and more. More important, she teaches how to incorporate chanoyu values and aesthetics into the stress and angst of our modern, everyday life.