the Kurimoto Japanese Garden
By Janet Yoneda
For many people, life is too fast-paced and stressful. We look
about for "balance" to develop and sustain our inner
quiet harmony amidst the rushing and striving. The study of tea
ceremony, Chanoyu, provides unique and beautiful training
for such balance and tranquility.
Last year I began to study and practice chanoyu. Our matsukaze
(wind in the pines) tea group meets at the Ozawa Pavilion in the
Kurimoto Garden of the Devonian Botanic Garden. It is a serene
setting in all seasons for contemplation and repose.
The Ozawa Pavilion, a 1500-square-foot structure designed by
Junichi Hashimoto, features stark simplicity of construction and
the beauty of subdued colours and natural lighting. Inside it,
standing on the unique cushioned floor of tatami mats, we look out
at the beautiful garden and feel at ease and at peace. A host
prepares a bowl of tea for the guest in the 10-foot-square chashitsu (tea room), a special, traditionally designed, darkened
space. It evokes feelings of quieting essential for the spirit of chanoyu.
Both an art and a religion, chanoyu (hot water for tea) began in
15th century Japan as a discipline of preparing and serving tea.
According to Murata Shuko, a Buddhist monk and originator of chanoyu, tea ceremony is "not an amusement, nor a technique
either, but an enjoyment of enlightened satisfaction." It is
a sharing activity, requiring a host and a guest.
The four principles of chado, the Way of Tea-harmony, respect,
purity and tranquility- refer to the relationship between host
and guest, people and nature and seasons, and feelings within
oneself which can stay beyond tea ceremony into busy real life. In
the small sparse tea room, there are only the hanging scroll (kakemono), the flower in a vessel
(chabana), the kettle, and
special tea utensils. Our awareness opens, focus sharpens, and
minds stay fully in the present moment. The clutter of everyday
life is gone, and the simplicity of serving and receiving tea
brings a rare tranquility.