Ceremony to a Tea
A woodcut print of utensils for a tea ceremony, circa 1810-18.
Portion of Library of Congress image, digitally altered
By Noriko Tsunoda Reider
Why do millions of Japanese practice chanoyu, the venerable tea ceremony-cum-performance art, when one can make a cup of tea with a tea bag in
minutes? What were and are the functions, expectations, and
ramifications of this long-standing ritual?
When one examines the evolution of the custom, from
sociopolitical to economic to medicinal to metaphysical
factors, and from gender to class to pedagogic to nationalistic
considerations, it becomes clear that not only the practitioners
of chanoyu but also the tea ceremony itself have gone through
many phases of making the grade over the centuries.
Phi Kappa Phi member Noriko Tsunoda Reider teaches in the Department of German, Russian, Asian, and Middle
Eastern Languages and Cultures at Miami University. Here she combines scholarly activities with private pursuits;
Reider publishes often on Japanese culture, history, prose and folklore and earned an instructor’s certificate in
Japanese tea ceremonies.