Anthropology of Contemporary Tea Practitioners (Summary 2)

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Additionally, they have an original view of “tradition” and recognize historical tea masters as the groundwork for their own way of tea. Their thoughts imply that simply following the traditional way of tea is not to be admired, although the complete imitation of the historically well-known masters used to be implicated as the token of great tea practitioners.

In this way, the absoluteness of “tradition” has been modified, and my major informants tend to place emphasis on “here now” not the past. Namely, they are convinced that “place where they live” and “time when they live” are more pertinent than the past.

That is why they compete on non-absolute measures such as self-made tea utensils or their ingenuity, and they consider that they can be compared with the traditional way and even better it in some instances.

At the same time, they understand the significance of the traditional tea schools because these authorities are required to show the future prospects of the tea ceremony.

The activities of tea groups could be in conflict with traditional tea schools. However, the former attempt to be legitimate by mentioning how long they have practiced the tea ceremony, or, conversely, they conceal their school’s name to enable conducting their experimental tea ceremonies.

Rather, they themselves consider that tea group can reach lay people in a different way than traditional tea schools do and they differentiate between their roles and those of tea schools.

My informants insist that they do not intend to disrupt the current tea ceremony or to change the traditional way of tea. Each of my informants mentions their gratitude and the respect for traditional tea schools and they repeat that their activities do not conflict with tea schools.

With respect to the reason why the young working people in 2010 engage in the tea groups, it is possible that they can gain more advantages than common tea students can.
Whereas the informants well recognize the controversial points of the traditional tea schools, they utilize the virtues of the traditional tea ceremony such as the legitimacy of their tea schools or in their own tea parties.

heir solutions to the shortcomings of the conventional tea ceremony are viewed as unusually novel by other tea practitioners, which leads to more ingenuity on their part.

They had been dissatisfied with their jobs such as the difficulty in having “their own free time” or living “their own life” before the foundation of their tea groups. That is why they attempt to change their occupations or workplaces, and their tea activities could become one of the ways to change them.

onventionally, tea schools have been thought as the only way to practice the tea ceremony as a job. My informants, however, are starting to earn profits from their tea gatherings, workshops and seminars about the tea ceremony in addition to administering tea schools.

In this way, the tea ceremony for them is starting to be more than hobby, which in turn affects their work style.

At the same time, tea schools are also starting to change their attitudes toward the tea groups.
One of my informants, who had been expelled from a traditional tea school over twenty years ago, explained that current tea schools cannot ignore the unconventional sense of value anymore because it kills the prospect of tea schools’ own future.

The survival of traditional tea schools has been accomplished by traditional tea schools and external organizations such as zen temples, financial companies and women’s schools. It is possible that the tea groups eventually will be incorporated into traditional tea schools in order to pass the tea ceremony down to the next generation.

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