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Unformatted text preview: of tea was, of course, the tea ceremony
itself, chanoyu, which had evolved during the medieval age and which
enjoyed great prosperity during Tokugawa times as one of the elegant
pastimes (yûgei) discussed in the last chapter. Chanoyu, as we have seen,
is based on the use of powdered tea and is a ritually elaborate procedure
whose principal spiritual basis is Zen Buddhism. By the eighteenth century there had emerged a movement, supported especially by literati
(bunjin) artists, that opposed chanoyu and its powdered tea and advocated, instead, the drinking of sencha or steeped tea.
The bunjin artists were attracted to sencha in part because of its association with the literati lifestyle in China, which included the drinking of
steeped tea. But these artists, as well as others, also embraced sencha as
a protest against chanoyu, which they viewed as both excessively complex and increasingly debased by virtue of the commercial purveyance of
it as an elegant pastime. Sencha was a beverage, uncluttered by rules, that
could be freely consumed by people coming together in casual social
The growing popularity of sencha in the second half of the Tokugawa
period also benefited from the intellectual trend of the times to look to
the past to revive earlier traditions or derive inspiration from them. We
have observed this trend, for example, in the School of Ancient Studies
of Confucianism and the Neo-Shintoist School of National Learning.
Sencha advocates rejected powdered tea, a product of the Sung period of
Chinese history, and called for a return to the “original way of tea” as it
was formulated during the earlier T’ang dynasty, especially in the classic
eighth-century writing by Lu Yü, The Classic of Tea (Cha Ching).19
As the nineteenth century began, incursions by Westerners increased.
Not only Russian, but also British and American ships began appearing
in Japanese waters. In 1808, for example, the British ship Phaeton, on
patrol during the Napoleonic wars, entered Nagasaki harbor looking for
some Dutch merchants. The Japanese magistrate of Nagasaki ordered
the ship to depart, and even began preparations to attack it. But the antiquated weapons of the Japanese could only have mounted a puny offense
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13