Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tai-an, tea room designed by Rikyu

Have you heard the name, Sen no Rikyu?   He is the most significant tea master in the history who has perfected The Way of Tea.  He also designed tea rooms with his distinctive aesthetic sense.

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei.  On our Kyoto trip, we visited Myokian temple.  It has Tai-an that is the only existing tearoom confirmed as Rikyu’s design.  Tai-an is one of the three tea rooms designated as national treasure of Japan. 

You cannot get inside the room but you can view it from outside and see the inside from the windows and entrance.  My impression of Tai-an is indeed very rustic.  The inside which is surrounded with soil wall was dark and extremely small.  It is only two tatami-mat room.  The common size room at that time was 4.5 tatami mats.  I wonder why he wanted to make the room so small? 

Maybe, the limited space and light make people concentrate on the tea itself, or stimulate more mutual bonding among the attendances.  I’m not sure, but I really want to experience a tea ceremony in this kind of space.

The monk at this temple told us that we can find Rikyu’s designs on ceilings, windows and Tokonoma- alcove.  Some of them are elaborately presented to make the room look larger.  Some people say that it seems vast like the outer space.  But the monk said that it’s not that large.  Two tatami mats are two tatami mats and nothing more.  Ha,ha,ha (^^;;   Jah!


  1. Thank you for sharing these photos. Are you allowed to take photographs of the inside from the viewing window or low entrance?

    Also I believe you can reserve a special tea session.

  2. Hi!
    You are not allowed to take photos of the inside. The inside picture on this entry is that I photographed a picture on a magazine.
    I don’t know about the special tea session. The webpage from your link is about the reservation for admission. I went there on a package tour, so I didn’t know that you need a reservation for seeing.

  3. Once again thank you for the prompt response!
    It is too bad you can not enter nor take pictures inside of tearoom.

    Also would you mind sharing what package tour you took? I am a student learning tea and ikebana and would be interested in visiting there sometime.

  4. Wow, you are learning tea and ikebana!? That’s wonderful!

    The tour that I joined was “JR50+”. ( I think you have to be 50 or older to join JR50+ tours. I’m not actually the one who applied the tour. One of members in our party did.

  5. Okay, Thank you very much!

    Hope this year will be filled with blessings for you, your family and friends.

  6. Hi, apparently the tea house was built so small on purpose. This was because samurai warriors were the most important guests, and so they could talk with each other in confidentiality. Consciously the space was designed so that it was impossible to carry any weapons inside, which were to be put outside. You had even to turn your body and bow deeply to get inside. (source: the little book of ikigai by Ken Movie)