Chanoyu developed greatly as a culture in the 16th century and the fact that it has maintained its hold on the hearts of the Japanese until the present day is perhaps because it is deeply rooted in their convictions and behaviour in a way that trascends the historical background of any period. For example, before guests enter the tea room, they always purify their hands and mouth with water. Also the host always sprinkles water on the roji (tea garden) before the guests enter it. This water is a symbol of purification which has been handed down as a folk belief from long ago. It is not just for hygiene, but is a purifying water to wash away the dust of this worldly existence. Also, purifying the roji to greet the guests as if they were gods is a folk custom of the Japanese from ancient times. The entrance to the tea room is a small nijiriguchi (crawl-through entrance). Samurai had to take off their swords in order to be able to crawl through. So the nijiriguchi symbolizes the fact that in the tea room everyone is equal. But if one examines Japanese folklore, one sees that it is often part of festivals or built into shrines and temples as an entrance through which people have to pass to be reborn. For example, there is a small tunnel called a tainaikuguri (lit. 'coming through the womb'). It is believed that if you pass through this small entrance you can acquire vital power.
Those who attend a tea gathering use the same fire to boil water which is poured on powdered tea and whisked. This cup of tea is then passed around to each of the guests to drink from. There is a saying, 'To eat rice cooked in the same pot'. This means that when people eat something which has been cooked with the same fire their hearts are joined all the more strongly. In former times it was the custom for people to drink from the same cup of sake that was passed around. To drink from the same cup was a ceremony that bound a group of people together through the sake. In chanoyu it is thick tea that is passed around instead of sake. It is because the folk customs and beliefs of the Japanese are alive within chanoyu that chanoyu can, transcending time, be a source of great tranquility for us.

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