Seishisai for one was firmly committed to the

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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 gatherings. 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 ag...
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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.

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