Learning about Chado culture and enjoying a Japanese confection and matcha tea at the Chado Research Center
Text : Keiko Nakamura / Photo : Takashi Oka
Chado, Japan’s “way of tea,” is not just a matter of boiling water, making matcha tea with it, and serving the tea to guests. In putting together a Chado function, the tea bowl and other implements are important factors. Harmony is sought in the hanging scroll, the kettle, the water jar, and other such articles in the tea room, as well as in the tea-room architecture and the garden approach to it. The time and space wherein the Chado function takes place, and wherein the host and guests and all those elements come together, constitute a comprehensive artistic expression. This “way of tea,” with its profound spiritual nature and unique philosophy, has been passed forward over the course of many long years.
The Chado line called Urasenke has the largest following in the world. Its Chado Research Center was established by the fifteenth-generation Urasenke iemoto (head-of-house, and grand master of the family’s Chado tradition), Hounsai Soshitsu Sen, as a museum where people can learn about the various aspects of Chado culture. At the changing exhibitions planned and mounted four times a year, exemplary tea bowls, hanging scrolls, tea-powder containers, tea scoops, and other types of Chado implements, as well as historical documents and the writings of the different past generations in the Urasenke Chado line, are exhibited. On the 2nd floor, you can see a replica of one of Urasenke’s representative historical tea rooms, the “Yuin.” The “Yuin” was built by the third generation in the line, Sotan (1578–1658), and it reflects the aesthetic taste of Sotan’s grandfather, the esteemed Chado figure Sen Rikyu. In the Konnichian Library which is a joint facility at the Chado Research Center, more than 60,000 Chado-related books and documents are stored, and there is a reading room.
Exhibition visitors are served a seasonal confection and matcha tea. The style of this tea service makes use of a tea-making table and chairs and is referred to as the ryūrei style. When Japan’s first international Expo was held in Kyoto in the early Meiji era (1868–1912), the eleventh-generation Urasenke iemoto, Gengensai Soshitsu Sen, created this style for welcoming guests from overseas. Even those experiencing matcha for the first time and completely unfamiliar with the manners can enjoy this tea service at the Chado Research Center at ease. The servers are glad to provide explanations of the manners and of the decorative articles. Please check the exhibition information on the Urasenke website and, if an exhibition is showing at the Chado Research Center Galleries, come to see it and sample a bit of Chado hospitality too.
Chado Research Center
Urasenke Center, 1st and 2nd F
682 Teranouchi Tate-cho, Horikawa-dori Teranouchi agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
Galleriesand tea service days closed: Every Monday unless the Monday is a National Holiday; reinstallation periods; Year-end through New Year’s holidays
Gallery hours: 9:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
Closing time for gallery admission and tea service: 4:00 P.M.
Adult admission: Regular changing exhibition, 700; Special exhibition, 1,000.
Tel: 075-431-6474 (Japanese); 075-451-8516 (English)
Urasenke Center, 2nd F
Days closed: Sundays, National Holidays, 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, August 16, and Year-end through New Year’s holidays
Hours: 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (Saturdays, until 3:00 P.M.)
★TRAVEL IDEA ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto'
① Visiting Temples and Shrines
② Buying souvenirs
③ Visiting Arashiyama・Sagano
④ Having Kyo-ryori
⑤ Wearing Kimono
⑥ Having Japanese tea
⑦ Having seafood
⑧ Visiting shops in Machiya
⑨ Being exposed to a traditional culture
⑩ Feeling nature