Saturday, September 15, 2012

Catholic Mass Influence on Japanese Tea Ceremony?

    It's been said that in perfecting the tea ceremony [Sen no] Rikyu was influenced by the Catholic Mass, an assertion that at first seems ridiculous given the ceremony's quintessential Japaneseness. Yest Christians were active in the circles in which Rikyo mixed, and at least two of his Seven Disciples were converts (his wife and daughter, too, it's rumored). A modern-day descendant of the tea master, Sen Soshitsu, has argued persuasively for the Catholic influence, and once the connection is pointed out the similarities are striking. Raising the tea to head height as a token of respect, for instance, and wiping the bowl after drinking with a white cloth. There is indeed in the whole ritual a sense of two or three gathering together in spiritual union. Could the okashi (Japanese confectionery) that accompanies the green tea have been inspired by the wafer that accompanies wine in the Mass? Food for thought, indeed...
So we read in In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians: A Story of Suppression, Secrecy and Survival, the story of the Kakure Kirishitan (隠れキリシタン), whose author makes clear his beliefs, which are agnostic.

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Blogger Renée said...

Now that it is pointed out, the parallels are so obvious, and the mysterious meaning of the tea ceremony so apparent.

September 16, 2012 at 7:11 PM  

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