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.