This post, which focuses on chado in Japan, is the third in a series of posts about tea art, tea ceremony, and chado.
The Japanese word Chado is similar to the Chinese word Cha Dao. In fact, given their history and contemporary meaning, the two words are essentially the same.
Chado is usually translated into English as the “Japanese tea ceremony.” However, this is not accurate because the English word “ceremony” contains no reference to the word Dao. Some people translate Cha Dao as the “way of tea.” This seems to be more accurate because Dao can mean “way” or “path.” However, Cha Dao not only refers to making or drinking tea, but also to looking for and finding one’s real self. According to Jiaoran’s poem, Cha Dao is enlightenment through tea. Thus, “ceremony” or “way” does not represent Dao, in my opinion. Therefore, I have chosen to use the words Cha Dao and Chado.
Based on its meaning, Chado is not necessarily related to tea art, the tea ceremony, the quality of tea, or the vessels. This can be strongly supported by a story. It is said that one Japanese tea master had a disciple who had only a wine-warming pot. This was not a good tea apparatus, but nevertheless he used this pot to cook rice and make tea. Regardless, he was praised by the tea master, who said he had a clean heart.
The guiding philosophy of Japanese Chado rests on harmony, respect, purity, and serenity (和敬清寂). “A unique meet for never (一期一会)” is another philosophy of Japanese Chado, which means that each cup of tea is unique – there will ever be another cup of tea just like the one you are drinking because of differences in teas, the drinking atmosphere, and the people in one’s life. Thus, one should try to make good tea and treat guests well each and every time; guests should recognize the preciousness of each meeting and attend it with the knowledge that it will never be repeated. Applying the philosophy of “a unique meet for never” to daily life encourages living in the present. The third philosophy of Japanese Chado is “sitting alone and observing the thought.” After guests leave, the host sits alone, observing the tea pot and thinking about the tea meeting that will never be repeated. This is the feeling of “without.” Thus, Chado has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism, and its core philosophy is Zen.
The Japanese tea ceremony is the way in which Japanese Chado is expressed. Similar to the Chinese tea art ceremony and the Korean tea etiquette ceremony, the Japanese tea ceremony also includes greeting, preparing to make tea, making tea, and tasting tea. However, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and calm is the most important aspect of the Japanese tea ceremony. The tea room is usually small, with a typical floor size of 4-1/2 tatami. The smallest tea room can be as small as one and a half tatami, and this helps guests to take care of one another. Guests must obey the rules, such as remaining silent while the host prepares the tea. Another difference is that matcha is prepared and served in Japanese ceremonies, while loose-leaf tea is used in Chinese and Korean ceremonies.
The Japanese tea ceremony has become popular. However, in my opinion, the modern Japanese tea ceremony is not in the spirit of Chado because it heavily emphasizes form and rules while tending to be showy and more entertainment based. This is why the Japanese tea ceremony and Japanese Chado must be differentiated.