Continued from Tuesdays With Norwood: In Japan – Part 5

Hideyoshi loved tea and he practiced chado after his own fashion. He sponsored probably the greatest tea party of all time, the invitation being in the form of an official edict, which is still preserved. All the tea lovers of the empire were summoned to assemble near Kyoto and bring along all their treasured tea utensils and wares. Rikyu planned everything to the last detail and the meeting lasted ten days, during which Hideyoshi fulfilled his promise to drink tea with each participant, whether nobleman, trader, or peasant-proof that chado had already begun to filter down into the lower strata of society.

Rikyu would also accompany Hideyoshi to the battlefield with a tiny portable teahouse as a place of relaxation before the fighting, where the heart could be composed. But while Rikyu’s pursuit of wabi became ever more simple and constantly more accessible to ordinary citizens, Hideyoshi, in the wake of his victories, triumphantly ordered all his tea vessels made of gold. The falling out between the two was perhaps foreordained, but to Western eyes it seems as mysterious and remote as a power struggle between an ancient Etruscan king and his augur.

An excerpt from New Tea Lover’s Treasury, by James Norwood Pratt

To be continued in Tuesdays With Norwood: In Japan – Part 7