The tea room

Hermits such as Kamo no Chomei (1153?-1216) severed their ties with the world and lived in rough dwellings in the mountains. Although this was inconvenient, it was a way of life intended to elevate the mind. In the Muromachi period there was a tendency to idealize such hermits. Living like them, people would invite their close friends and do their best to entertain them with the amusement called 'chanoyu'. This became a popular diversion.
Even in residences in the city, places for chanoyu were built in 'mountain dwellings', modelled on the ideal of the hermit's thatched hut. The tea room was a small one of six mats or four-and-a-half mats, a room entirely covered in tatami. Murata Shuko's tea room that has come down to us is a four-and-a-half mat room with a verandah at the entrance, a toko of one ken (about 180cm) and a ro (sunken hearth). In chanoyu one could enjoy a gathering with people of high rank in the same room. A toko was necessary for this and for entertaining it was necessary to display objects. But for hermits it was impossible to do this as it would be done in a palace. So, at the least, a kakemono (hanging scroll) was hung in the toko and flowers were arranged there. The display of fine objects in the zashiki of a shoinzukuri style residence was greatly scaled down in the world of chanoyu.

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