Ueda Tradition tea preparing ceremony

Tea Drinking in the Ueda Sōko Tradition

The Ueda Tradition is a school of tea of the samurai class that originated in the Momoyama period (1568-1598). The warlords of this period lived in a ruthless time where the fear of death was present in daily life. The tea of the Momoyama period samurai class is therefore a style of tea that seeks quietude for the mind and strength of spirit.

 

The Temae of the Ueda Sōko Tradition

The temae (tea preparing ceremony) of the Ueda Tradition is often said to be elegant and beautiful. There are two reasons for this appearance.

First, the actions of the temae are comprised of straight lines and all unnecessary movement is eliminated. This creates a clean, dignified appearance that is invigorating for the practitioner.

Second, actions are performed similar to the in-to-out flow of the breath (e.g. cleaning the whisk (chasendōji), rotating the tea bowl and whisking the tea). With practice, the temae can be performed in natural flowing harmony with the breath. From an 'unshakeable core expanding out' is the fundamental direction of assertive action and the tea ceremony of the Ueda Tradition is based on this fundamental. To captures this in the temae, the practitioner moves at one with an energising in-to-out flow of breath.

These two aspects of (1) invigorating, clean actions comprised of straight lines, and (2) the strength of actions performed in harmony with the in-to-out flow of the breath, contribute to the dignified and beautiful appearance of the temae of the Ueda Tradition.

 

Utensils and the Body

An ideal of the Ueda Tradition is for utensils and the body to come together in harmony. One therefore does not slouch or handle objects by moving just the arms. Instead, handling objects from the central axis of the body is of fundamental importance. Objects are handled with a composed and stable posture; at navel height, 3cm behind the tip of the knees and with the space of an egg open under the arms. Objects are held firmly with the thumb and middle finger and the index finger is added more lightly. Objects are not placed down just by moving one’s arms; the whole body is used when placing objects down. The eyes also focus on the utensil that is being used at that particular moment. Harmony is achieved when the utensil, body, arms and eyes all move together.

 

上田宗箇流のお茶

上田流は桃山時代に生まれた武家茶です。桃山の武家茶は当時の武将達が死と隣り合わせの厳しい日々の中で、一刻(ひととき)の心の静けさを求めることを特に求めた茶といえます。

 

上田宗箇流の点前

上田流の点前は凛として美しいとよく言われています。それは、次の2つの理由があります。1つは、点前の動作(服紗捌き、柄杓の扱い方)が直線で組み合わせていることにより、無駄のない清々しさを生みます。もう1つは、呼吸と同じく内から外への動作(茶筅湯治、茶盌を回す、茶を点てる)が多い事です。点前も深く進むと呼吸と一体になるのです。内から外への動作が基本になるということは、呼吸と一体になりやすい、ということです。

直線の組み立てで無駄のない清々しさ、内から外への動作で呼吸と一体になる強さ、この2つにより凛とした美しい点前となります。

 

器物と身体

道具と身体が一体となる事が理想です。そのために体が前かがみになったり、手先だけで扱わないことです。基本的に体の中心で扱うことが大切です。おへその高さで、膝より3センチ奥、脇が卵一つぐらい開けてゆったりとした安定した姿勢で物を扱います。物を持つときは親指と中指の2本でしっかり持ち、人差し指を添えます。物を置く時は手先だけでなく、体を使って置きます。そして、目は扱っている道具と一緒についていきます。物と体と手と目が一つになって動いているから一体となるのです。