Chanoyu


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Iemoto System

The Japanese Tea Ceremony is taught via the iemoto system. The iemoto system developed in Japan centuries ago to facilitate the learning of traditional Japanese performing arts. It preserves the tradition by having one grand master teaching the tradition and providing licenses to students to learn the art form. When a student becomes sufficiently proficient, they can receive a license to teach the art/tradition. The iemoto (term for the grand master of the tradition) has supreme authority for the tradition.

There are several chanoyu traditions. The three most well-known are the three traditions developed by the great grandsons of Sen no Rikyu, a famous merchant, statesman, and tea master. Chanoyu developed in the late 16th century to what it is today and Rikyu was foundational to it development. The first of the three is called omotesenke, literally 'Front Sen House', or the front half of Rikyu's house. The name 'omotesenke' began when the brother of the omotesenke tradition took over the back portion of the property and began the urasenke (Back Sen House) tradition.

Omotesenke Licenses

In the omotesenke tradition of tea, the iemoto issues licenses to students interested in learning chanoyu. The licenses are given in a progression and are as follows:

Nyuu Mon
This is the license to learn how to be a guest at a tea ceremony. It also covers how to serve thin tea both in a tea room setting as well as outside a tea room using a tray. Finally, the license covers how to make a charcoal fire to heat the water used in the tea ceremony.
Naraigoto
After learning the basics of being a guest and making thin tea, the naraigoto license adds in making thick tea. It also covers variations for when the host has an important utensil to draw attention to, how to honor an important guest, or how to simplify the ceremony when the host is old and infirmed.
Kazarimono
The kazarimono license teaches the student how to display notable items in the tokonoma or display area.
Satsuubako
When a guest brings the host some tea at the last minute, the host will graciously accept it and include it as part of the tea ceremony. How the extra tea is incorporated is taught in the satsuubako license.
Karamono
Karamono begins to teach students how to use ancient Chinese imported items. In the 16th century, tea was prepared using imported utensils from China. The karamono license begins to teach the student how to use them.
Daitenmoku
After learning the basics of karamono, daitenmoku teaches the student how to use an ancient Chinese temomku teabowl sitting on a stand.
Bonten
Bonten is the highest license a student can have without going to the iemoto's house and learning the remaining topics. Bonten teaches how to use an ancient tea caddy and a tray for protecting it.
Midarekazari
This is the procedure for using a daisu table.
Shindaisu
This is the procedure for using a formal daisu table.

Shikakusha
The shikakusha license is not given to learn new material. Rather it is a license stating the student is qualified to teach under the tutelage of a kyojusha. A shikakusha can teach any material covered in any license at least one below the student license the shikakusha possesses. Generally, this license is not granted to anyone below karamono.
Koushi Toritsugi
This is neither a license to learn nor a license to teach. Rather, it is simply a title given to a shikakusha who is actively teaching students.
Kyojusha
This license is given to shikakusha, who meet the required qualifications, to teach any license at or below bonten. To earn the kyojusha license, the student must be at least 50 years old, been teaching students for at least 10 years and has been studying bonkogo for at least 10 years. Additionally, they need to complete a five-year training course.