Tea Culture of Japan: “Chanoyu” Past and Present illuminates the importance of Japanese tea culture and examines the ways in which it has evolved over the centuries. Imported to Japan from China during the ninth century, the custom of serving tea did not become widespread until the thirteenth century. Before the rise of the simple wabi aesthetic, tea service involved precious objects displayed lavishly in a large room. By the late 15th and 16th centuries, powdered tea was ceremonially prepared by a skilled tea master and served to a small group of guests in a tranquil setting; this way of preparing tea became known as chanoyu. Tea Culture of Japan brings together approximately 100 objects—drawn largely from distinguished private collections and supplemented by the works in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. Objects on view range from the ninth century through the present day and include ceramic tea bowls from Japan, Korea, China, and Vietnam, as well as bamboo tea scoops, iron kettles, maki-e lacquer incense containers, and Zen-inspired calligraphic works.
Exhibition and publication organized by Sadako Ohki, the Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art, Yale University Art Gallery. Made possible by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; Ann and Gilbert H. Kinney, B.A. 1953, M.A. 1954; the Japan Foundation Endowment of the Council on East Asian Studies; the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation; and an endowment created with a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.