Nara is the historic and spiritual heart of Japan.
The first capital was built over 1300 years ago and many parts of Japanese culture were born and spread throughout Japan from Nara.
According to the record, the first Japanese tea was brought from China in the 9th century, but it wasn’t immediately popularized, as it was precious and valuable.
The tea became a drink of the royal classes such as emperors and the aristocracy for their health and it was gradually dying out.
Subsequently, the Zen monk Eisai brought powdered green tea and whisks to Japan from China in the end of the 12th century. Deeply linked with Buddhism, tea consumption became popular among the temples and then spread to the samurai and the wealthy merchant classes.
In the 15 century, Murata Juko, who was born in Nara, founded Wabi-cha style of the Japanese tea ceremony as a spiritual practice, which emphasizes simplicity.
He studied Zen under the monk Ikkyu, who revitalized Zen in the 15th century, and this is considered to have had influence on him.
The tea ceremony we know today was perfected by the tea master Rikyu in the 16th century. He also designed tea houses and gardens in the Mt. Yoshino area.
Another tea master of the same period, Sekishu Katagiri, founded a tea school for the samurai classes and built the temple and tea house at Jikoin.
Matcha tea and a seasonal Japanese sweet is served to you as you sit on the red cloth on the floor at Jikoin Temple.
The tea whisk is also one of the traditional crafts that Nara is famous for.
The Takayama area produces about 90 % of all tea whisks in Japan. We offer some tours in which you can watch the master’s skills in front of you and try the last step of making a tea whisk under his guidance.
If you are interested in Japanese tea ceremony and its crafts, how about visiting its birthplace, Nara?