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photo of Hakone Gardens

"If asked the nature of chanoyu, say it's the sound of windblown pines in a painting." Sen Sotan (1578-1658)

Chanoyu, or the Japanese Tea Ceremony, is an aesthetic exercise, or discipline, teaching the principles of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility through the process of preparing, serving, and receiving tea. Learning to prepare tea in this manner teaches how to interact harmoniously with others in a respectful way. Chanoyu is a lifelong activity, creating a tranquil and meditative environment to clear the mind.

Why do people learn chanoyu? There is no single reason shared by everyone. Each person who studies the tea ceremony does so for their own reasons. Tea started out as a way to help buddhist priests remain awake while meditating. Soon after, it was used as a social event for entertaining friends. Later, the tea ceremony became a ritual to aid in enlightnment. In today's busy world where information bombards us daily, the simple elegance of chanoyu provides an opportunity to shut off the brain for a while and unwind. Many martial artists are drawn to tea to find balance.

Why should you learn to prepare tea? That is for you to determine and decide. Perhaps it is one of the above reasons. Perhaps you simply want to enjoy matcha in its most ideal state. Whatever your reason, chanoyu will give you the skills to think clearer, find commonality with others, calm your mind, appreciate more, and meet others with something in common. Perhaps chanoyu addresses a need you hadn't realized you are looking to fulfill.

It is impossible to know if chanoyu is for you until you have tried it. For that reason, I recommend contacting a tea teacher near you, and give it a try. Perhaps it is something that will fill in a blank in your life. If it doesn't, it will only cost you a couple hours of your time. If it does, it will open up a lifetime of tranquil pleasure.