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Special exhibition “Chanoyu” (Tokyo National Museum)


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  • Chanoyu:
    the Arts of Tea Ceremony, the Essence of Japan

    11 April – 4 June 2017
    Tokyo National Museum


    The tea ceremony in Japan has been developed, over a long period of time, into an original art with unique aesthetic sensibilities. This exhibition traces the evolution of arts associated with the tea ceremony (“chanoyu”, “sado”), from the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) to the modern era.

    Around the 12th century, zen monks studying in China during the Song Dynasty learned the new style of serving tea (using matcha) and brought it back to Japan. The practice spread gradually among zen temples, the samurai families and others in the upper social strata. By the end of the 15th century, some affluent merchants and urban inhabitants had practiced a variety of arts, including the tea ceremony. Until then, Chinese (and Korean) teawares and artworks had been predominantly used, as a status symbol.

    In the 16th century, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573–1603), the great tea master Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) perfected “wabi-cha” or the Japanese art of tea, which was propagated widely in the country. The wabi-cha fashioned by Rikyu bore the austere mark of zen in the pursuit of simplicity and quietude, getting rid of superfluous elements and conventions. Also, the exclusive use of foreign teawares gave way to an increasing employment of Japanese vessels.

    The exhibition offers an excellent opportunity, for especially (but not limited to) all those who love the art of tea, to explore Japanese aesthetics involved in the centuries-old art.

    Some of the world’s finest tea bowls will be on display.

    「茶の湯」展 東京国立博物館(amuzen article)
    National Treasure
    Tea Bowl, yuteki (“oil spot”) tenmoku type
    China, Jian ware, Southern Song dynasty, 12th–13th century
    The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

    「茶の湯」展 東京国立博物館(amuzen article)
    National Treasure
    Tea Bowl, Shino type, known as “Unohanagaki”
    Mino ware, Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th–17th century
    Mitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo

    「茶の湯」展 東京国立博物館(amuzen article)
    Important Cultural Property
    Celadon Glazed Tea Bowl, known as “Bakohan”
    China, Longquan ware, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century
    Tokyo National Museum

    「茶の湯」展 東京国立博物館(amuzen article)
     Important Cultural Property
    Tea Bowl, aoido type, known as “Shibata”
    Korea, Joseon period, 16th century
    Nezu Museum of Art, Tokyo

    The exhibits also include excellent calligraphic scrolls, paintings and flower vases to decorate tearooms.

    「茶の湯」展 東京国立博物館(amuzen article)
    National Treasure
    Red and White Cotton Rosemallow
    By Li Di
    China, Southern Song dynasty, dated 1197 (Qingyuan 3)
    Tokyo National Museum  (on display from 23 May to 4 June)

* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.

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