This ochaya or teahouse is typical of the small size and rustic simplicity of similar structures found throughout Japan. They are designed to create a temporary respite from the complexities of daily life. The entire construction is of natural materials: with cedar shingles on the roof, timber pillars, bamboo poles and plastered walls.
Prior to taking part in a Japanese tea ceremony, invited guests traditionally engaged in a symbolic purification by ritual washing of their hands in the stone basin in the nearby tea garden. Then having removed their shoes, they entered the teahouse through the low crawl door to the side of the building, thus indicating their humility and unworldliness. As you walk by the teahouse here, you may catch a glimpse, through the shoji screen doors, of a traditional tea ceremony, performed as it has been done over the centuries. The nearby tea garden was created by a Japanese gardener from Kyoto. It includes many items hand carved by him.
These include the stone basin beneath the bamboo water pipe, and the nearby stone lantern.
BUDDHISM & THE TEA CEREMONY
From his time as a journalist in America to his last years in Japan, Lafcadio Hearn was keenly interested in Buddhism. In Japan he saw how the great Shinto and Buddhist temples swarmed with pilgrims and he documented the influence of these ancient religions on every aspect of daily life. The tea ceremony traces its origins to the 8th Century when Japanese monks visited China to study Buddhism, and found the monks drinking tea to keep awake to say their prayers. The first documented evidence of the serving of tea in Japan was in 815 when a Buddhist monk served tea to the Emperor Saga. Performed today just as it has been for centuries, the tea ceremony in Japan still serves an important social function. Every action of its enactment represents harmony, purity and tranquility.
“The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect,Lafcadio Hearn
most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible.”