A Japanese Teahouse does not need to be a Japanese Teahouse to be a Japanese Teahouse. Let me explain by way of Kakuzo Okakura, author of the classic work, The Book of Tea.
Originally, the Sukiya, the tea-room, was not in its own Teahouse. It was simply a portion of the drawing room partitioned off by screens. At most, it could accommodate 5 people. Close by would be a kitchen, the Mizuya, where the utensils were washed and arranged. While all was being prepared, the guests would sit and wait in the Machiai, a covered shelter usually in a garden. When summoned, the guests would walk upon the roji, a garden path that led to the tea-room.
Our WalkingWay Guest House will be, in essence, an American Southwestern Teahouse. There will be a teaching room, not very large, large enough for perhaps 15 people to sit together. When needed, this room will quickly convert itself into a dining area. Close by will be the kitchen. Our Machiai, our covered shelter, where we can sit before class will be our oak grove. There we can sit shaded by its leaves, soothed by its silence. A path, the roji, leads from the oak grove to the teaching room.
The grove and the path are there to lead our gaze gently away from the practical, problem solving world and toward another world, the sensory world within which the spirit of the earth can be found and felt.
A teahouse is a house of peace built upon a poetic impulse. It’s a place devoted to touching the sacred through the beautiful. It is a place that shines with a luminous poverty. Sometimes it is called the Abode of Vacancy, of Emptiness, of Space. A teahouse is more space than place. To create a clean, simple space full of freshness requires thought, natural materials, beautiful workmanship, and tremendous attention to detail.
Nothing is fancy, nothing ornate. The teahouse is symbolic of the body, a temporary abode, natural, earthy. A teahouse should express the esthetic and the life of its host. It should not be imitative or generic. Originality, this being in touch with the origins, gives the tea-room an honest vitality. Nothing is mass produced. A teahouse is the answer to mass production.
May this teahouse be a space where kindred spirits can sit together, be together, eat together, learn and unlearn together in friendship. May it be a space inside the natural world, where we cultivate harmony, beauty and balance within ourselves and when with others. May it be a space where, through an affectionate fusion of movement, stillness, touch, nature and art, we mature and grow into who we are and who we are meant to become.
If you are considering joining us this summer and you wish to save yourself a place in our Guest House, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can only accommodate 6 people per gathering in our Guest House. Places are beginning to fill up, so now is the time to save your place.
To know more about our Summer Gatherings, here’s the link:
Hope to see you this summer.