Japanese Ryūrei Tea Ceremony

Thu - 05.28.2020 - 3:00 PM

Japan House 2000 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana


Chado, or the Way of Tea, is one of the most ancient and revered arts of Japan, and is at the very heart of Japan House. There are many different variations of this art form. Traditionally, guests sit in the seiza posture (kneeling with the tops of the feet flat on the floor and sitting on the soles). But there is a variety of tea ceremony in which one sits on a chair while drinking the tea. This is called the Ryūrei style.

Historically, in Japan, people didn't use chairs. They sat on the floor to eat meals. In contrast, people in the West sit on chairs at a table to eat meals. Ryūrei was created as a way of making tea ceremony more accessible to Westerners. Even Japanese people, who use the seiza posture much less than in the past, embrace the Ryūrei style of tea ceremony because it places less of a burden on the legs.

The Ryūrei style of tea ceremony was created by Gengensai Seichū (1810-1877), the 11th head of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony, for an exposition held in 1872 in Kyoto. Many foreigners visited Japan at this time, so the government requested that an effort be made to accommodate them by modifying the traditional form of tea ceremony.

The main feature of Ryūrei style is that both host and guests sit on a chair. The seiza posture is no longer used, but utensils are used in the same way as in a normal tea ceremony. Although this one aspect of the ceremony is altered, the Ryūrei style is otherwise the same as a tea ceremony performed using the seiza posture.

While here, learn about the history of Japan House and of this 500 year old art form, and enjoy a bowl of matcha tea and wagashi, a traditional Japanese sweet.

Tea ceremonies will feature a special handmade wagashi, using recipes from our newly released cookbook "The Art of Wagashi: Recipes for Japanese Sweets that Delight the Palate and the Eyes" written by Japan House Prof Emeritus Kimiko Gunji. The cookbook will be featured, and available for purchase.

Experience a moment of peace.

Reservations are recommended. You will be asked to remove your shoes (or use shoe covers) when you enter, and to wear socks (we have some to lend you if you forget). We also ask that legs be covered as is traditional in Japan. You will be sitting on chairs, not on the tatami mats.

Michael Darin