Characteristics of the Ueda Sōko Tradition of Japanese Tea Ceremony
 
The Ueda Sōko Tradition of Japanese Tea Ceremony is:
  • a Samurai Tradition of Tea Ceremony (chanoyu) that continues unbroken from the Momoyama Period (approx. 1573 ~ 1603) to the present day
  • a Tradition where the unique aesthetics of Ueda Sōko can be seen - aesthetics that combine influences from Rikyu’s pursuit of tranquility and Oribe’s pursuit of beauty in dynamism to form a sense of beauty that is dignified and elegant
  • the only Tradition that has restored the headquarters of the Tradition (Iemoto) to the original layout of the Edo Period Samurai residence complete with the tearoom complex ‘Wafūdō’ and shoin reception building. The Tradition also maintains many historical tea equipages, artefacts, and ancient texts with great historical significance for the history of chanoyu
  • a Tradition known for its dignified, elegant beauty. The characteristic movements of the Ueda Sōko Tradition’s tea preparing ceremony (temae) are dignified and beautiful. This is achieved by composing movements of straight lines and eliminating all unnecessary movement. The Tradition emphasises the yin/yang balance in the practitioner which usually results in a more powerful aesthetic for men and a softer aesthetic for women (in line with Samurai culture of the Momoyama Period).


More specifically, the above points entail:

  • The tea preparing ceremonies (temae) are different for men and women
  • The way of bowing for men and women is different
  • The purifying cloth (fukusa) is worn on the right side of the sash (a samurai’s sword is fixed in the left side of the sash and this side is left free out of respect for the sword, and in case one has to suddenly exit the tearoom, fix their sword to their sash and start battle)
  • The way of handling the bamboo ladle (hishaku) and purifying cloth (fukusa) if very distinctive in the Ueda Tradition. E.g. Men handle the bamboo ladle as if riding a horse in battle and draw water as if handling an arrow
  • The movements in the tea preparing ceremony (temae) are composed of straight lines, and the movements flow with the breath. Performing the ceremony in harmony with the breath rejuvenates one’s spirit: the emphasis is on releasing one’s breath and energy ‘from inside to out, from inside, to out’

Studying the Japanese Tea Ceremony (chanoyu) makes the practitioner’s everyday life more fulfilling, and rewards the practitioner with moments of tranquility, stillness, and quietude for the mind. 

In the midst of the tranquility of the tearoom one finds the spirit of the samurai of the Warring States Period (Sengoku). Ueda Sōko and his contemporaries lived each day with ferocious purpose. 

The values of the samurai are very relevant for our times. Living with emphasis on the present moment, maintaining spiritual stability, quietude for the mind, and developing artistic expression are the highest values; and values one develops in the practice of the chanoyu of the samurai.

 

日本語 Japanese