Friday, June 21, 2013

Greeting between the host and guests


The host and guests greet each other by bowing silently at the chumon gate in the garden and after getting into the tea room they finally exchange words and courtesies.  Today, I would like to talk about a philosophical aspect of Chanoyu.  Why don't you greet with words for the first time you meet?  I guess that there are not many tea people who can answer this question.



When you as the guests get in the tea room, the host won’t be in the room yet.  After entering the room, you go to and look at the hanging scroll, flower and utensils and then you take a seat.  The host would appear when all the guests have been seated.  There is another interesting rule at this point.  The host opens the door and tries to greet from outside of the room.  Then you say “Please come in”.  The host will come in and have the greeting in the room.  Why do you need to give the host permission to come in?  You were invited and came to the host’s place.  The tea room is the host’s property.  Isn’t it a little weird?  It is said that the tea room is prepared for you, so the host tries to express his hospitality by practicing a humility and showing you respect.  I first thought how complicated it is!  But now, I can understand it if I think it as a relationship between the guest and the staff at a hotel, hahaha. 

Let’s get back to the first question.  Now in the room, the host and you as the guests make greetings with words while expressing the gratitude of invitation or participation.  Why have you kept silent on exchanging courtesies at the chumon gate?  I read one explanation which satisfies me.  The idea might be quite spiritual.  The tea room is considered as a cloistered sanctuary.  The host from the tea room or the inner-garden is a purified man.  On the other hand, you as the guests are people from the real world which is different from this sanctuary.  It could be considered that the people from the different worlds cannot talk nor have a common channel to communicate.  This is the explanation for the silent greeting.  After the greeting, you purify your hands and mouth and get in the room.  Now, the host and you are finally in the same world and can vocally communicate.

Tea people may enjoy this kind of spiritual concept.  When I think that way, the perspective of the tea world becomes much more firm and exciting.  This is just one idea.  If you know different explanation regarding the silent greeting, please let me know.

6 comments:

  1. Wow. Chado is so deep, isn't it? And maybe even more so for us than it was 400 years ago, because now we need to think harder about these things to understand their meaning. That is one reason why I love chado :)

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    1. I was very excited when I read this concept. I thought that it makes a lot of since and it explains some other wonders that I had on rules or materials around the tea house. It’s fun to learn these ideas.

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  2. Thank you for posting this concept behind the tea room ritual. It makes it clearer to understand the greeting process. With deeper understanding, it makes it more interesting to enjoy the process.

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    1. You are right. Knowing the idea behind the ritual makes attending a ceremony much more interesting. That’s for sure!

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  3. Japanese etiquette is encyclopedia-worthy.

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    1. Yap, we have a lot of things to learn!

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