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The Japanese Tea Ceremony has been a tradition in the Japanese culture for many years The ceremony incorporates much of the Buddhist religion with the ideals of Zen The ceremony has many steps that end with drinking tea that is said to cleanse the spirit In order to obtain a complete understanding of the cultural significance of the ceremony it is necessary to understand the history behind the ceremony and how it evolved into what it is todayTea was first introduced to Japan by a group of Japanese Buddhist monks that returned from China on a diplomatic mission during the Heian period These monks were sent to China in order to gain further knowledge of the Chinese culture They acquired much knowledge including the Chinese Buddhist monks custom of drinking tea to stay awake during meditation Kato The Japanese monk Saicho thought it was a great idea and returned to Japan with hopes of spreading this custom to other monks Over time tea became increasingly popular among the Buddhist monks in Japan KatoThe Japanese Buddhist monks kept the tea drinking custom to themselves for nearly four hundred years It was not until the twelfth century that tea reached other Japanese cultures A Japanese monk named Eizai served tea to Minamoto Sanetomo a famous Samurai general Kato After the tea drinking custom was adopted by the Japanese Samurai class tea became increasingly popular among Japanese citizens as well Kato At this point there was not a set procedure in which the Japanese drank their tea Zen priest Murata Shuko was the first to set a ritual in which tea to drink tea His ritual reflected his Zen beliefs in one major way This was the Zen ideal that there is a definite link between the spiritual world and the material world This was displayed in the ritual through the use of various bowls and utensils which represent the material world and the use of tea to
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