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Where is tea-drinking a time-honoured ritual?

Where is tea-drinking a time-honoured ritual?The ceremonial drinking of tea has long been a time-honoured institution in Japan. The central idea of thee ceremony is the appreciation of the beautiful in life’s daily routine such as preparing a meal and tea, cleaning the house, working in the garden and so on. The ceremony is called in Japanese cha-mo-yu (which can be interpreted as ‘hot water tea’). It is a way of entertaining guests, who after they have been served a meal are given thick, weak tea made of pulverized tea leaf stirred in hot water. The entertaining is done in a small room. It may be 2.7 m square or even smaller. Much thought is given to the construction of the little room. There is an alcove in which ornaments may be placed and there is a small sunken fireplace. This is used for heating the kettle during winter. In summer a brazier with a charcoal fire is used. The way the guests enter the room is designed to demonstrate humility. Their way in is through an opening less than 1 m square. The tea room is called chaseki. Before entering the chaseki each guest is required to wash his hands and rinse his mouth. This is a symbolic gesture of cleansing himself externally and internally and is one of the four qualities which the tea ceremony emphasizes. There are three other qualities which are part of the ceremony. One is harmony between the guests and the utensils used in the ritual. Another is respect nor only among those taking part, but also for the utensils. Yet another is tranquility, which suggests the quality of mellowness given to things by long and fond use.

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