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Japanese Tea House Architecture

One would think that, with the profound implication of the tea ceremonies, that the tea houses would be elaborate. Actually, just the opposite is true – the houses are austere, simple. The features of the houses afford a way for the guests to hide from the outside world. This is because, as the opening sentence stated, they house another world, another reality. After all, the participants in the house, noblemen, peasant, warrior alike, are all equal. This is indicative of an alternate reality. Also, the ceremonies are a way for the people to leave their real life behind, and concentrate only on the moment. The tea house thus serves the same function as the tea ceremonies themselves – they are a way, if only for a few hours, to destroy class structure and the real world.
Tea ceremonies came about through the practice of Buddhist Monks who needed to stay awake during their meditations, and later became a part of Zen rituals in honor of Bodhidharma, the Zen monks first patriarch.1 From this, the tea ceremonies became a place where friends gathered to discuss certain objects and their artistic merits, such as various paintings and calligraphy, flower arrangements and the utensils used for these ceremonies. 2 The tea host himself had to be adept at certain knowledge, such as what scrolls to hang during the ceremony, and the meaning of these scrolls, which presumed knowledge of classical literature.3 He also must have been conversant about the articles that are either displayed or used in the tea ceremony: utensils, the flowers, the distinction of the burning incense, the incense burner itself, the dipping ladle, the water heater vessel and the tea container. 4 He must have known the protocol of the ceremony – greeting and conversing with guests properly and the manners and courtesies that must be observed. In short, the tea host, or tea master, must have been cognizant of Japanese culture, as these ceremonies

Japanese Tea House Architecture