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In the middle of the 16th century the first Westerners the Jesuits arrived in Japan and at that same time a Japanese man named Rikyu was developing a new approach to the ancient practice of serving tea with some food It did not take long for the Jesuits to discover and develop an admiration for tea practices and to incorporate them into their everyday life in Japan But the relationship between western civilization and the tea ceremony came to an abrupt halt when Tokugawa Ieyasu the Shogun forced Westerners out of Japan and shut the doors on them for almost 300 years Although the doors re-opened in 1868 it took almost 100 years for Westerners to develop an interest in the tea ceremony to the extent that they would begin to practice it and not simply view it as a quaint inscrutable custom of the Japanese In view of this renewed interest in many nations three questions will be raised in this booklet 1 What are people doing when they do tea 2 Why should anyone in the world want to do such a difficult thing 3 How can people from different religions and cultural backgrounds benefit from the way of tea 1 What Is Tea The experience of a tea ceremony can have 3 dimensions to it it is a social event it stresses aesthetics very much it can have a religious dimension That it is a social event is obvious Guests gather at an appointed time to be served food and drink This can be an informal tea which consists of serving a sweet and some tea or even a small meal with the sweet and tea This is called a chakai and can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or so The number of guests for this sort of tea can be as small as one and the highest number of
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