In Japan, as you may know, we have a strong spirit of harmony called “Wa no kokoro” which was created long ago by the farmers who were our ancestors and is still deeply embedded in our culture today. These farmers understood the need to live together harmoniously with each other and their environment, and to help each other in order to prosper on the same land. It was this that gave birth to the “Wa no kororo” that symbolizes Japan and its culture.
One aspect of this culture is the tea ceremony, which is called Sado in Japanese and literally means the “way of tea”. The tea ceremony started around 600 years ago when a Zen Buddhist priest called Eisai brought Chinese medicine to Japan.
Around 400 years ago, after many years of civil war, the Edo period began which lead to 260 years of continuous peace which was a time when culture and arts flourished.
During the Edo period the samurai changed from simply being warriors to become urban administrators who ruled the country. The samurai had a duty to develop their character to be a role model for all other citizens. Their education involved comprehensive training in both the cultural and military arts, which included our Sekishu-isa school of tea ceremony. It was essential for Samurai to master the etiquette of the tea ceremony known as “shuyona-cha”, which means mental training through tea. This is the origin of Bukesado which means “samurai way of tea”.
For Samurais, tea was “seishin-cha” or “spiritual tea” because it possessed the special spiritual quality called jison-tason. Jisson-tason is a very important concept and means respecting yourself and showing the same respect for others. Mutual respect is the key concept behind the samurai way of tea.
The Sekishu-isa school of Bukesado was created for the Tokugawa family who were the most powerful family during the Edo period and for generations ruled as Shoguns from Edo Castle. (Edo is the old name for Tokyo). After the Edo period ended, my ancestors struggled to continue the school but they managed to maintain an unbroken succession of the school and preserve the tradition of the Samurai spirit for over 300 years until today
In the tea room, everyone is equal, no matter who you are. The samurai, who held their swords to be as important as their lives, would leave them on the sword rack before entering the tea room as a symbol of trust.
After the samurai introduced themselves, according to tea ceremony etiquette, tea would be prepared in a simple bowl and served to them one by one. Each person was treated as an important guest. Communicating your heart and mind to your companions is an important characteristic of the tea ceremony. The whole ceremony has to be performed with “ai”, which means “love” in Japanese. All of your thoughts and actions are filled with the spirit of love that you feel for your guests and your environment so that you can create a fleeting moment of harmony with your guests.
Beyond nationality, race, generation and religion, I believe in the importance of human life. Every person should have happiness. With the development of scientific technology and globalization, the world has become much closer but so many difficult problems still remain. We see the destruction of nature and climate change occurring throughout the planet. The spirit of jison – tason also includes the idea of creating harmony between people and the environment around them. Human happiness is not possible without care and respect for our environment.
We can take the spirit of jison-tason that we develop inside the tea room out into the world and use it in our daily lives. This is why I believe that bukesado can help us achieve happiness and promote greater understanding in the world.
Heir of the Sekishu-Isa school head