Archive for August, 2009


Chado, as my teacher at Urasenke Seattle, Bonnie Mitchell encourages me to call it in English, or sado as my Japanese friends encourage me to call it when I speak Japanese, is the art of Japanese tea ceremony.  Chado (茶道) literally translated means the way of tea: 茶=ちゃ=cha=tea, 道=どう=do=way=path.  The do in chado is the same do as in kendo, the way of the sword, and bushido, the way of the warrior.

Chado is an ancient practice which originated in China and was imported to Korea and Japan.  Chado was passed down through generations of Zen masters who dedicated their lives to perfecting the art of tea.  Its roots in Zen inform the minimalist aesthetic of the tea room, the meditative nature of the ceremony, and basically every other aspect of the art.

The ceremony itself can appear subdued or affectedly formal on the surface but every person in the tea room from the host, to his guests, to the last object in the room plays an active role in creating the experience.  The host must choose the objects in the room with a sensitivity to the environment, the season, and the occasion.  The guests must learn and follow the established protocol of the tea room.  The host imbues every motion with meaning and each guest gives purpose to the host by her participation.  Like in tennis, or anything for that matter, there is duality in the tea room.  Every query from either host or guest has a natural response.  Every motion has a counter motion.  Especially in this aspect, the Zen philosophy comes through.  The art of tea is an expression of harmony.  Yin and yang incarnate.