Tao of Tea in Kyoto


For the Japanese, asymmetry, or unbalanced structure, is beautiful. A tearoom is a typical example of this way of thinking. Decoration is limited and rather simple. Simplicity is the essence—”without any decoration we can enjoy life”—that is the Japanese way.

At Kyoto’s Kodaiji Temple, we are told that while in western culture augmentation is appreciated as a sign of success, the Japanese aesthetic strives to eliminate unnecessary clutter, and in so doing, remove everyday burdens.

The “tea room” is austere for the purpose of focusing not on décor, but on “the moment”. There are a very limited number of things, and a limited number of decorations, so that what does exist truly catches our attention, like a singular simple plant, rather than a gorgeous bouquet. When participating in the ceremony we are asked to suspend our questions and thoughts, because when we “think” about what we are doing, we lose presence and focus. We are asked, therefore, “to appreciate the moment and enjoy the experience”.

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Aharen Beach, Okinawa, Japan, courtesy of JNTO

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